Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka

783 N.W.2d 721 (2010)

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Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka

Minnesota Supreme Court
783 N.W.2d 721 (2010)

SC
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Facts

JoAnne Liebeler owned property in the City of Minnetonka, Minnesota (defendant). The property contained a garage that was not in compliance with a Minnetonka zoning ordinance, but the garage was allowed to be on Liebeler's property because it was built before the ordinance went into effect. Liebeler wished to repair and expand the garage to include a second story, and she applied to the City for a variance. Beat Krummenacher (plaintiff) was Liebeler’s neighbor and opposed the variance because the increased height of Liebeler's garage would block his view. The City Planning Commission granted the variance. Krummenacher appealed to the City Council. The City Council upheld the Planning Commission's decision, concluding that Liebeler's variance request met the standard for a variance because (1) there was an undue hardship based on the topography of Liebeler's lot and the location of her driveway and vegetation on her property, (2) the existing nonconformity was a unique circumstance, (3) the proposed expansion did not increase the garage's footprint and was within the zoning requirements for garage size and height, and (4) the proposed improvements would not affect the neighborhood's character because they would make Liebeler's garage more visually appealing and there was another detached garage in the neighborhood. In reaching its decision regarding undue hardship, the City Council relied on a standard for undue hardship laid out in Rowell v. Board of Adjustment of Moorhead, 446 N.W.2d 917 (Minn. Ct. App. 1989) and found that Liebeler sought to use the property in a “reasonable manner” that was nevertheless prohibited by the ordinance. Krummenacher brought an action in district court to challenge the City's decision, including its undue-hardship finding. The district court found in the City's favor, and the court of appeals affirmed. Krummenacher appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gildea, J.)

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