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Zoning variance changes (new law)

Published (5/6/2011)
By Nick Busse
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A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling last year made it next to impossible for local governments to grant zoning variances to property owners. A new law is intended to fix the problem.

Sponsored by Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) and Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista), the law is designed in response to Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka. In that case, the court interpreted statute to say that cities cannot grant variances to property owners if their properties could be put to reasonable use without a variance.

In effect, this meant local governments could no longer grant variances, except in rare circumstances. Supporters say the law would merely clarify the existing statute so that local governments can go on using the same standards that have been in place for decades.

In brief, the law states that cities, counties and townships may grant variances in cases where the property owner intends to use the property in a “reasonable manner” that does not conflict with the essential character of the locality.

The law is effective May 3, 2011.

HF52*/ SF13/CH19

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