Land Use Law

Over the past 25+ years, Karen E. Marty has handled a wide range of land use matters.  A few of them include:

Annexation - Prepared documents to obtain annexation of client’s property so that it could be subdivided and developed.  Litigated to strike down an orderly annexation agreement that was being used to prohibit land development.

Bluff protection - Obtained a conservation easement from a developer who otherwise would have dug out portions of a bluff, undermining support for existing houses.

Conditional use permits  - Have negotiated and litigated to obtain conditional use permits for clients.  Also have assisted residents in opposing conditional use permits for nearby projects.  When working for cities, drafted and reviewed conditions to be placed on conditional use permits.

Development agreements - Negotiated dozens of development agreements relating to new subdivisions of land.  Prepared or reviewed development agreements with caps on fees that may be charged to a developer, multi-year phasing for a large subdivision, dedication of streets and easements, conveyance of lots and outlots to cities, and many details specific to individual projects.

Easements - Drafted and reviewed cross-access easements, public utility easements, drainage easements, and other temporary and permanent easements.

Fees - Challenged excessive fees being imposed by cities on developers.  Won court case stopping city from imposing fees in excess of the amount in a development agreement.

Floodplains - Assisted clients with development restrictions in flood plains.  When working for a city, wrote the city’s first floodplain ordinance, carefully tailored to apply retroactively to the central business district.

Lot restrictions - Negotiated lot restrictions, including access limitations, driveway locations, and restrictive covenants regarding the use of the lots.

Minor subdivisions - Litigated to obtain approval for a minor subdivision improperly denied by a city.  Have assisted clients in obtaining local approval for minor subdivisions.  When working for cities, revised minor subdivision ordinances and procedures to speed review and approval.

Nonconforming uses - Have obtained approval for uses as legal nonconforming uses.  Litigated to stop a city’s attempt to regulate the floor plan of a nonconforming use.  Worked with property owners to address problems resulting from purchase of “illegal” nonconforming uses.

Nuisance abatement - Helped clients dealing with city threats to “abate” their outdoor storage of items.  Also helped clients and homeowners’ associations enforce restrictive covenants prohibiting outdoor storage.  Have mediated city cases where property owner kept an excessive amount of “junk” in their yard.

Outlots - Stopped city from approving outlots without restricting their future development.  When working for cities, revised ordinances to provide that outlots could not be developed until platted as a numbered lot.

Park dedication - Negotiated with cities on behalf of developers, to reduce excessive or illegal park dedication requirements.  When working for cities, revised park dedication requirements to comply with state law.

Planned unit developments - Drafted and reviewed proposed conditions and restrictions for numerous planned unit developments, including for Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Plats - Assisted clients in obtaining plat approval from cities and counties.  When working for cities, reviewed and commented on dozens of proposed plats.  Also reviewed title of land proposed to be dedicated to the public through plats.

Shoreland - Advised clients on shoreland restrictions and development options.

Signs - Negotiated with cities to obtain sign permits for clients.  When working for cities, completely rewrote the sign ordinance to balance the interests of residents and sign companies.

Sixty day rule - Reviewed client matters to determine whether violations of the statutory “sixty day rule” have occurred.  (Minn. Stat. § 15.99 gives cities and towns 60 days to review zoning applications.  If the application is neither approved nor denied within the time limit, the application is automatically approved.)  Litigated over a sixty day rule violation.

Streets - Drafted and interpreted access restrictions from lots to streets.  When working for cities, helped them acquire property through plat dedication, common law dedication, and by easement or deed.

Subdivisions - Worked with clients and cities to obtain approval for both minor and major subdivisions of land.  Negotiated all details, including dedication of land, payment of fees, phased development, and development agreements.

Vacations - Reviewed land title documents to determine who owns vacated streets, alleys, and platted lots.  When working for cities, reviewed numerous proposed vacations of streets and alleys.

Variances - Assisted clients in obtaining zoning and subdivision variances.  When working for cities, reviewed dozens of variance requests, analyzed hardship elements, and drafted findings to approve or reject variance requests.

Wetlands - Helped clients obtain approval for wetland mitigation, both in anticipation of filling a wetland, and after-the-fact when a wetland was mistakenly filled.  Reviewed wetland delineations.

Zoning - Aided clients in stopping proposed new developments and rezoning nearby.  Obtained rezoning of clients’ property to allow development.  Stopped city from rezoning a client’s property to prohibit development.  Extremely familiar with zoning ordinances, their historical construction, current trends, and common issues.  When working for cities, was involved in two complete revisions of their zoning ordinances.

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