Municipal Law

Karen E. Marty has handled a wide range of municipal matters -- from annexation to zoning. Throughout the 25+ years of her career, she has worked in municipal law. Presently she works independently of any one city, sometimes representing a city and sometimes representing someone who has a problem with a city, town, or county.

As an independent third party, Ms. Marty has handled sensitive personnel matters for cities, including investigations of top city officials. She conducts administrative hearings for cities and public agencies upon request, and has done more than 80 administrative hearings on a wide variety of topics for a dozen different cities. She also has served as the city attorney for cities when their own attorney had a conflict.

Ms. Marty frequently represents individuals and small businesses who are having problems with cities, towns, or counties. She has assisted in numerous land development, platting, zoning, conditional use permit, nonconforming use, and other land use matters. She also has represented neighborhoods, groups of concerned citizens, and a charter commission, in responding to unwanted development. proposals. Her representation has ranged from political advice on how to stop a proposal before approval, to litigation and appeals.

Ms. Marty was hired as Shakopee, Minnesota’s first full time in-house city attorney. Shakopee was transitioning from a sleepy river town to the entertainment center of the Twin Cities metro area. Ms. Marty created an in-house legal department, established all procedures, developed a departmental budget, and hired and supervised staff. She worked on a daily basis with elected and appointed public officials, and advised them on the legal and political ramifications of their proposals. She instructed city officials in ethics, conflicts of interest, and restrictions on accepting gifts. In working with staff, she provided risk management and loss control advice. She negotiated and drafted complex contracts, development agreements, and leases. She also wrote a new personnel handbook for the city, and assisted city management through two staff reorganizations. Ms. Marty handled both civil and criminal cases at the trial level and on appeal. At the same time, she also served as legal counsel for the city’s independent public utilities commission, where she wrote contracts and advised board members and staff.

Interesting projects she worked on include: annexing additional land so the city could control growth; revising the development conditions on Canterbury Park so that it could grow but not become a nuisance or police problem; renewing the lease allowing Murphy’s Landing to stay on city property, while adding requirements to force it to improve management; developing restrictive ordinances to deal with an increasing number of pawn shops and tattoo parlors; and creating an administrative process to deal with liquor license violations.

Prior to working in Shakopee, Ms. Marty was an assistant city attorney in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is a large city (larger than Duluth) in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, about half an hour from Branson, Missouri. In Springfield, Ms. Marty handled all matters from the Planning, Public Works, Building Regulations, and Finance Departments, was primary liaison to the city council, and also prosecuted misdemeanor offenses. In addition, she handled all legal matters from the city’s human rights commission, where she prosecuted race, sex, age, and religious discrimination cases. Concurrently she served as legal counsel for the local housing and redevelopment authority, where she advised board members and staff on the application of federal regulations; wrote contracts relating to grants, land acquisition and disposition; and assisted staff in providing relocation benefits.

Please also see our local government law case examples.

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