State ex rel. Howard v. Village of Roseville, 36470

Decision Date15 April 1955
Docket NumberNo. 36470,36470
Citation244 Minn. 343,70 N.W.2d 404
PartiesSTATE ex rel. William E. HOWARD, Respondent, v. VILLAGE OF ROSEVILLE, Appellant, Grandview Park Civic Association et al., Interveners.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

1. Under its police power, the governing body of a village or municipality, in interests of public health, safety, morals, or general welfare, may restrict an owner's use of his property for commercial or annoying occupations deemed undesirable to community as a whole.

2. What best furthers public welfare is a matter primarily for determination of legislative body concerned.

3. Where reasonableness of zoning ordinance is debatable, or where there are conflicting opinions as to desirability of restrictions it imposes or suitability for residential purposes of property so designated thereby, courts will not interfere with legislative discretion on such issues.

4. Where evidence is conflicting on issue whether certain land zoned for farm residential purposes was precluded from such usage, but strong evidence supports determination of village council that it was adaptable thereto, decision is legislative in character and not subject to judicial interference.

5. Where property owner purchased property subsequent to passage of zoning ordinance which restricted its use, he could not complain that such restricted usage unlawfully diminished value of his property since restrictions were effective prior to his purchase.

6. Provision exempting nonconforming usage in effect at time of adoption of zoning ordinance from restrictions of ordinance for given length of time but providing that such nonconforming usage shall not be extended or enlarged would not authorize issuance of permit for improvement to property for the purpose of greatly enlarging or extending the nonconforming use.

7. Where permit for improvements on property has been issued by authorized officer under mistake of fact, and in violation of an ordinance, it confers no privilege on person to whom it is issued, and it may be revoked even though expenditures have been made in reliance thereon.

Loftsgaarden & Loftsgaarden, St. Paul, for appellant.

Thomas J. Nash, St. Paul, M. J. Timmons, Minneapolis, for respondent.

THOMAS GALLAGHER, Justice.

Mandamus to compel respondent, Village of Roseville, to issue to relator, William E. Howard, certain permits for the alteration, construction, and maintenance of a trailer park on his property within the Village of Roseville, Ramsey county. Relator's property is adjacent to and northwest of the intersection of state highway No. 36 and Victoria street north in the village. It extends approximately 1,280 feet from east to west on highway No. 36 and 165 feet from north to south along Victoria street.

On January 11, 1954, the district court of Ramsey county ordered judgment for a peremptory writ commanding respondent to issue the permits. It determined that an ordinance was arbitrary, unreasonable, and invalid insofar as it zoned relator's premises as farm residential property. On June 18, 1954, it denied respondent's motion for amended findings and conclusions or in the alternative for a new trial. This is an appeal from such order.

Respondent's refusal to issue the permits was based upon the restrictions prescribed in zoning ordinance 149 of the village (Village of Roseville Ordinance 149), which zoned the premises involved as farm residential property wherein trailer park usage was prohibited except to the extent maintained at the time of the adoption of the ordinance.

Prior to May 12, 1942, pursuant to L.1941, c. 210, 1 the Ramsey County Planning Commission proposed a comprehensive plan for the zoning of various sections of Ramsey county, including Rose township, in which respondent village is now located. By virtue thereof, the property here involved was then classified as farm residential. On May 12, 1942, the township of Rose, pursuant to L.1941, c. 210, § 5, accepted the plan of the commission and adopted a comprehensive zoning ordinance in which the property was likewise designated. L.1941, c. 210, § 7, provided that after adoption of the plan of the commission by any town, city, or village, its provisions become binding upon all persons and property therein.

Both the plan of the commission and the township ordinance contained specific provisions which restrict the premises here to such usages as residential; general farming or gardening; commercial greenhouses and nurseries; stands for sale of agricultural products produced on the premises; stock raising and dairying; golf courses; and airports, cemeteries, and gun clubs. Such restrictions would forbid the use of the premises for trailer park purposes, except that the ordinance provided that (§ 11 of zoning plan passed by Rose Township):

'* * * the lawful use of any land or building existing at the time of the adoption of this plan may be continued, although such use does not conform to the regulations specified by this plan * * *; provided, however, that no such non-conforming use * * * shall be enlarged or increased, nor * * * extended to occupy a greater area * * * than that occupied by such use at the time of the adoption of this plan; nor * * * moved to any other part of the * * * land upon which the same was conducted at the time of the adoption of this plan.'

In May of 1948 the Village of Roseville came into existence, and on February 17, 1953, it adopted zoning ordinance 149, containing the same zoning provisions, definitions, restrictions, and exceptions as did the township ordinance.

Subsequent thereto on July 2, 1953, relator purchased the property involved here from William H. Cook, who since 1942 had operated a trailer park therein. Mr. Cook then occupied a house just northeast of the property on land approximately 100 feet by 200 feet in area which was not included in the sale to relator. He testified that, on May 12, 1942, at the time of the adoption of the ordinance by the township, he maintained approximately 18 to 20 trailers upon the property, none of which were located more than 400 to 500 feet west of its east line; that in 1945 he had increased this to a maximum of 41 trailers; but that thereafter the number had decreased so that in 1953 there were approximately 25 trailers maintained thereon. Under ordinances of the Village of Roseville a permit for each trailer is required, and the record indicates that from September 1952 through February 1953 only 17 of such trailer permits were applied for.

On July 14, 1953, after some preliminary conversation with the village clerk, relator applied to the village council for a permit for the construction of cesspools and septic tanks upon the property. On July 15, 1953, the village clerk issued the permit. He testified that he then thought the cesspools and septic tanks were to be installed close to the building occupied by Mr. Cook for residence purposes. Prior to the issuance of the permit, relator had commenced excavations on the property for installation of a sewer line. On July 16, 1953, the clerk discovered that relator's contractor was extending the sewer ditch 1,280 feet to the extreme westerly end of the property and intended to install a complete sewage system for an enlarged trailer park thereon. Thereupon, pursuant to direction of the village council, the permit was revoked and the work stopped.

Relator testified that his plans contemplated the expenditure of from $50,000 to $75,000 for improvements to the trailer park on the premises, including fences, roadways, sidewalks, and sanitary facilities, all sufficient for the accommodation of 90 trailers.

1. We are asked to determine whether the trial court was correct in holding the ordinance arbitrary, unreasonable, and invalid as it applies to relator's property. Several well-established principles govern determination of the question. Under its police power, the governing body of a village or municipality, in the interests of public health, safety, morals, or general welfare, may restrict an owner's use of his property for commercial or annoying occupations deemed...

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