Flaherty & Hood Senior Attorney Robert Scott recently won a victory for the City of Le Sueur in the Minnesota Court of Appeals in a lawsuit filed by residents who sought to compel the City to hold a special election on their petition to enact an ordinance pursuant to the initiative process outlined in the City’s Charter.

Facts: The proposed ordinance sought to amend the City’s existing public nuisance ordinance in such a way as to flatly prohibit certain features of a proposed bioenergy facility in the City, without regard to whether the facility would actually result in a harmful or offensive condition.

Advice and Advocacy: Robert advised the City throughout its consideration of the development proposal and initiative proceedings, and successfully defended the City Council’s decision not to hold a special election on the proposed ordinance in the Le Sueur County District Court. Robert argued on the City’s behalf that the initiative amounted to an illegal attempt by the residents to prevent a specific development from proceeding in circumvention of the exclusive planning and zoning procedures established in the Municipal Planning Act, Minn. Stat. § 462.351 – 364.

Successful Outcome: The District Court agreed, and denied the residents’ motion for a special election and dismissed their lawsuit against the City in its entirety. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District’s Court’s order and judgment in an opinion available here, upholding the City’s position that the Municipal Planning Act had preempted the initiative provisions in its Charter with respect to local land use regulations such as the residents’ proposed amendments to the City’s nuisance ordinance.

For more information about Flaherty & Hood, P.A.’s representation of local governments in land use and zoning matters and/or civil litigation, please contact Robert Scott at 651-225-8840 or rtscott@flaherty-hood.com.