Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 30, 2015

MN Appeal Court Holds Denial of Conditional-Use Permit Application For Mounted Shooting Events Was Not Arbitrary or Capricious

Relator-landowner Jeffery August owned a 20–acre tract of land located in the Sunrise Township, zoned for agricultural use. August built a fenced-in arena on his property for mounted shooting events, and a public announcement system to use in connection with the events. In 2013, August formed a club, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, and began hosting mounted shooting competitions and clinics. The Sunrise Township Board recommended denying the CUP application under section 8.05 of the CCO due to negative impact and the intrusion of noise caused by the proposed use. The county board then voted to deny the CUP application. August challenged respondent Chisago County Board of Commissioners’ denial of his conditional-use permit (CUP) application. August argued that the county board’s denial was arbitrary and capricious, and the county board erred when it failed to consider certain Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) rules.

The record indicated that the county board voted to deny the CUP based on its conflict with the rural retail tourism use, specifically the small-scale/low-impact requirement and the impact it will have on the neighborhood “by intrusion of noise, glare, odor, or other adverse effects.” The county board relied on the criteria enumerated in the county zoning ordinances and thereby provided legally sufficient reasons for denying the CUP. August next contended that the county board could not consider the effects of noise unless the noise met or exceeded the controlling noise standards as determined by the responsible government entity. The court found that section 7.05 did not establish noise standards different from those promulgated by the MPCA. Instead, the zoning ordinances required that a CUP applicant demonstrate that the noise created by the proposed use will not adversely affect neighboring properties, and the rural retail tourism sections require that the use will not impact the neighborhood by intrusion of noise. Accordingly, section 7.05 was not in conflict with the MPCA noise standards, as it did not define any decibel limits for noise considerations. Here, the county zoning staff report stated that it estimated that noise from the property would not exceed the MPCA decibel limits, but the report did not confirm that noise level was measured in accordance with the statutory and administrative rules’ guidelines.

Moreover, members of the planning commission visited the property and heard, firsthand, the noise caused by the mounted shooting events and relied on these observations when making their recommendation. Thus, the court found the county board reasonably relied on the landowners’ concerns and planning commission members’ observations and therefore had a sufficient factual basis to determine that the increase in noise would adversely affect the neighborhood. Accordingly, the county board’s decision to deny the CUP was not unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.

August v Chisago County Board of Commissioners, 2015 WL 4877658 (MN App. 8/17/2015)

The opinion can be accessed at:

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