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MN Supreme Court ruling relating to Carriage Hills Golf Course
Official summary of July 12, 2007, MN Supreme Court ruling relating to Carriage Hills Golf Course, Wennsman Realty, Inc. and the City of Burnsville and comments on it by Stevel Cheleznik, Save Bent Creek advocate.

The July 12, 2007 ruling of the MN Supreme relating to Carriage Hills Golf Course, Wennsman Realty, Inc. and the City of Eagan is likely to have relevance future proposals to develop Bent Creek Golf Course in Eden Prairie. Click here for the official summary.

( http://www.courts.state.mn.us/opinions/sc/current/OPA051074-0712.htm )

Comments by Save Bent Creek advocate Steve Cheleznik

Save Bent Creek advocate Steve Cheleznik says that the Minnesota Supreme Court's July 12, 2007 decision reaffirmed the right of Cities to reasonably control land uses and development consistent with their Guide Plans as long as they have a rational basis for their actions.

Mr. Cheleznik believes that in light of the unique history of the Edenvale Planned Unit Development (PUD), that includes Bent Creek, the City of Eden Prairie has a more than sufficient, rational basis to justify all of its previous actions that have rejected requests made by Bent Creek owners to rezone the course for development. He thinks that the City of Eden Prairie is in a stronger position than the City of Eagan regarding their somewhat parallel situations.

“The Court clearly stated its opinion,” Mr. Cheleznik writes in an email message to FBIW’s Jeff Strate, “The Court clearly stated its opinion that such decisions are essentially legislative decisions to be made by duly elected bodies and not second guessed by judges if there is any rational basis for that decision. The decision doesn't have to have been the best decision, just one with any rational basis.”

“As for the regulatory takings issue, the Court took a very reasoned approach. They said the owner must have been deprived of "all reasonable uses" for the property for a "taking" to have occurred. They remanded the matter back to the District Court because this analysis must rely on a well developed factual record and the Court did not feel a sufficient factual record had been developed. The Court spelled out the factors from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in it's famous Penn Central case that would have to be considered to make that determination as the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions are very similar in this area. In the Penn decision, the Court stated you must analyze and balance the land owner's legitimate investment-backed expectations, the essential character of the governmental action, and the economic effect of that action to make a final determination.”

It is Mr. Chelznik’s initial opinion that if these factors are fairly applied to the Bent Creek situation, in light of its PUD history, this balancing should yield a result in favor of the City – in favor of keeping Bent Creek a golf course. “Even if a court were to determine the essential character of the City's action(s) tended to favor a taking,” Mr. Chelezink writes, “the investment-backed expectations and economic effect factors should go the City's way.”

“Unlike in the Wensmann case [the Carraige Hills case], Bent Creek is a fully functioning Golf Course and is appreciated by many. There would also be willing buyers ready to purchase the property and continue to operate it as a golf course if the owner were willing to consider offers from non-developers. These facts would weigh heavily against a [the possibility of a court] finding that a compensable regulatory taking had occurred. In point of fact, the owner of Bent Creek has not been deprived of all reasonable uses of the property as he is free to continue to operate it as a golf course or, if he no longer wishes to do so, he can obtain a reasonable return on his investment by selling the property to someone who is willing to continue to operate it as a golf course.”

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