City loses airport lawsuit

The City lost a Supreme Court Decision.  Here is the note I received from City Attorney, Terry Adkins…

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled against the City and in favor of Leon DeCook in the long battle over the expanded safety zone for the north/south runway.  In so doing, the Court announced a new rule of law stating that, in Minnesota, airport zoning ordinances that result in any considerable or valuable amount of money constitutes a “taking” for which the landowner must be compensated.  (In DeCook’s case, he only suffered a loss of no more than 6% of the total value of his land.  Yet, the Court found that to be sufficient for compensation from the City.)

I will be meeting with Steve Leqve to discuss a way to rescind or amend the ordinance that gave rise to this dispute in the first place.  Hopefully, we can find a way to avoid paying any money in this dispute.

This decision will impact every Minnesota city that owns an airport and seeks to expand it in any way.  It especially causes major problems for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.  For the Rochester International Airport, any future expansion project that causes nearly any reduction in property value for adjacent property owners will have to be re-examined in order to determine the “takings” cost to the City.

I think we need to take a real look as to whether we can afford to do future airport expansions.  I continue to believe that a high speed rail connection between Rochester and the MSP Airport is our best and most cost effective long term solution to regional and inter-regional transit.

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