City of Shorewood v. Sanschagrin, A21-0992

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtRODENBERG, JUDGE
Docket NumberA21-0992
PartiesCity of Shorewood, Respondent, v. Guy Gerald Sanschagrin, et al., Appellants.
Decision Date14 March 2022

City of Shorewood, Respondent,

Guy Gerald Sanschagrin, et al., Appellants.

No. A21-0992

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

March 14, 2022

This opinion is nonprecedential except as provided by Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 136.01, subd. 1(c).

Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-19-15159

Timothy J. Keane, Leland P. Abide, Kutak Rock LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

Wynn Curtiss, Chestnut Cambronne PA, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellants)

Considered and decided by Bryan, Presiding Judge; Jesson, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge.



Appellants Guy Gerald Sanschagrin, Kristine Knudson Sanschagrin, Jeffery Lowell Cameron, and Linda Kay Cameron appeal from the district court's order granting partial summary judgment and injunctive relief in favor of respondent City of Shorewood (the city). Appellants argue that (1) the district court erred in determining as a matter of law that their dock violated city ordinances; (2) summary judgment should not have been granted because there exist disputed issues of material fact; and (3) the district court should not have granted injunctive relief. Because Shorewood, Minn., Code of Ordinances (SCO) § 1201.03(14)(b) (2006) (2006 code[1]) was in effect before and during April 2017, it is controlling, and because appellants installed a dock in April 2017 that was lawful under the 2006 code, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.


In September 2016, appellants purchased from the city an undeveloped parcel of real property (the property) in Shorewood, Minnesota, located on the shore of Lake Minnetonka. The city had purchased the property from the state, which had acquired title through tax forfeiture. There is no dwelling on the property and the parties agree that the parcel is too small to accommodate a dwelling that complies with the applicable ordinances and laws.


Appellants installed a dock on the property in April 2017. As discussed in more detail below, the dock was not a floating dock and was designed to be removed from the lake before the winter months and then reinstalled after ice-out the succeeding spring. On May 11, 2017, the city issued a notice of zoning violation to appellants, and instructed appellants to remove the dock. Appellants replied to the city's notice with a notice of appeal. Appellants informed the city that, before installing the dock, they had "thoroughly reviewed the relevant codes to make sure the dock would comply with the [city] code provisions." In June, the city scheduled a hearing. The city postponed this hearing so it could review its zoning ordinances related to the installation of docks. The city then informed appellants that it had withdrawn the citation for the zoning violation and cancelled the hearing. In July, the city amended the 2006 code concerning dock regulations, Shorewood, Minn., Code of Ordinances (SCO) § 1201.03(14)(b) (2017) (2017 amendments).

In June 2018, the city cited appellants for a zoning violation for having installed a dock on the property in 2017 and again in 2018. The city declined to hear appellants' appeal as untimely and charged appellants criminally for code violations. The district court dismissed the complaint on procedural grounds. On appeal we affirmed the district court. State v. Sanschagrin, No. A19-1700, 2020 WL 1673741, at *1 (Minn.App. Apr. 6, 2020), rev'd, 952 N.W.2d 620. When it later reversed, the supreme court remanded to the district court to reinstate the city's complaint for further proceedings. Sanschagrin, 952 N.W.2d at 629.


In July 2019, and while the criminal case was making its way through the courts, the city sued appellants in this case, seeking to enjoin their installation and maintenance of a dock on the property. The district court granted partial summary judgment and temporary injunctive relief to the city.

This appeal followed.


Appellants argue that the district court improperly granted partial summary judgment in favor of the city because the district court erroneously concluded that the 2006 code prohibited the installation of a dock on the property. They further contend that, because their dock was a legal dock under the 2006 code and was first installed before the 2017 amendments, injunctive relief should not have been granted to the city based on the 2017 amendments.

"The district court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fletcher Props., Inc. v. City of Minneapolis, 931 N.W.2d 410, 417 (Minn.App. 2019) (quotation omitted), aff'd, 947 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. July 29, 2020). On appeal from summary judgment, a reviewing court must determine "whether the district court properly applied the law and whether there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment." Riverview Muir Doran, LLC v. JADT Dev. Grp., LLC, 790 N.W.2d 167, 170 (Minn. 2010). We review both questions de novo, viewing "the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted." STAR Ctrs., Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 644 N.W.2d 72, 76-77 (Minn. 2002).


Section 1201.03, subdivision 14(b), of the 2006 code provides that "[d]ocks and wharves, permanent or floating, shall not be built, used or occupied on land located within the R Districts until a principal dwelling has been constructed on the lot or parcel."[2] This portion of the 2006 code was changed in 2017 to provide: "Docks shall not be built, used or occupied on land located within the R Districts without a principal dwelling on the lot or parcel to which it is accessory." SCO § 1201.03(14)(b) (2017).[3] The parties agree that the property is without a principal dwelling and is too small for a dwelling to be lawfully constructed.

I. Genuine issues of material fact

Appellants argue that the district court should not have granted the city's summary-judgment motion because genuine issues of material fact remain for trial. Appellants contend that the following material facts remain in dispute: (1) whether the 2006 code or the 2017 amendments applied to appellants' dock; (2) whether similarly situated docks existed in the city; and (3) whether the previous owner of the property installed a dock.

No genuine issue of material fact exists where "the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69 (Minn. 1997) (quotation omitted). A material fact is one that will "affect the result or outcome of the case depending on its resolution."


Zappa v. Fahey, 245 N.W.2d 258, 259-60 (Minn. 1976). "[T]o raise a genuine issue of material fact[, ] the nonmoving party must present more than evidence . . . [that would] permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions." Valspar Refinish, Inc. v. Gaylord's, Inc., 764 N.W.2d 359, 364 (Minn. 2009) (quotation omitted).

A. Relevant code

Appellants argue that the 2006 code is controlling and that any subsequent amendments cannot constitutionally apply to their dock. "When a nonconforming use lawfully exists before an adverse zoning change takes effect, constitutional and statutory protections permit the use to continue." Meleyco P'ship No. 2 v. City of W. St. Paul, 874 N.W.2d 440, 443 (Minn.App. 2016).

Interpretation of zoning ordinances presents a question of law. Frank's Nursery Sales, Inc. v. City of Roseville, 295 N.W.2d 604, 608 (Minn. 1980). "When the material facts are not in dispute, we review the [district] court's application of the law de novo." In re Collier, 726 N.W.2d 799, 803 (Minn. 2007).

The question of which code provision applies to appellants' dock-the 2006 code or the 2017 amendments-presents no disputed issue of material fact. The question is purely one of law.


B. Similarly situated docks

Appellants argue that their dock is legally identical to other similarly situated docks in the city.[4] This, they argue, should have precluded the city's enforcement of the ordinance with respect to their property.

The city presented evidence concerning how it received and dealt with complaints from the community and explained that the city is a "complaint driven enforcement community." The city "only initiates enforcement [of code violations] in response to citizen complaints." The city received complaints from residents regarding the dock.

It stands to reason that there could exist nonconforming docks about which there have not been complaints. Appellants cite no authority-and we are aware of none- establishing that every other code violation must have been remedied before appellants' alleged code violation may be addressed. See Minn. Stat. § 462.357, subd. 1 (2020) (authorizing municipalities to "establish standards and procedures regulating" the use of land within their jurisdiction). Therefore, whether another prohibited dock is currently installed in the city is not material to the outcome of this appeal. See McCavic v. De Luca, 46 N.W.2d 873, 877 (Minn. 1951) (stating that "the validity of an ordinance is not affected by failure to enforce it or by its wrongful enforcement or by the fact that it is repeatedly violated").


C. Previous owners' use of the property

Appellants also argue that a previous owner of the property had installed a dock that was similar to the one that appellants installed in April 2017.

"An established nonconforming use runs with the land, and hence a change in ownership will not destroy the right to continue the use." 8A Eugene McQuillin, The Law of Mun. Corp. § 25.256, at 66 (3d rev. ed. 2020). "Moreover, we have long recognized that a subsequent property owner stands in the place of [its] predecessors for purposes of defining the scope of nonconforming-use rights." AIM Dev. (USA), LLC v. City of Sartell, 946 N.W.2d 330, 336 (Minn. 2020) (quotation omitted). A...

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