Stephanie Angolkar has been certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a Civil Trial Law Specialist. To be certified, Stephanie passed a rigorous examination and demonstrated substantial involvement in civil trial law, provided references from opposing counsel and judges she has tried cases before, and demonstrated education in civil trial law.
Minnesota Lawyer has named its 2023 Attorneys of the Year.
Paul Reuvers, Jason Kuboushek, and Andrew Wolf have been named Attorneys of the Year in the Nonprofit and Government category for their work in Puce v. City of Burnsville. This team obtained a victory in the Minnesota Supreme Court with the holding a city’s park dedication fee has an “essential nexus,” as required by Minnesota Statutes section 462.358, subdivision 2c(a), because there is some logical connection between the imposed park dedication fee and the municipal purpose sought to be achieved by the fee, and has a “rough proportionality” as required by the same statute, because the city made an individualized determination that the fee is related to the impact of the proposed development. The court determined the City of Burnsville complied with Minnesota Statutes section 462.358, subdivision 2b(e) because the city made a reasonable determination that it would need 5 percent of the gross land area of the development to maintain open space in proportion to city projections. The quick take-away is park dedication fee formulas are valid, but it is not a free pass to simply name a number. There needs to be some consideration as to how a city gets there.
Stephanie Angolkar has been named an Attorney of the Year in the Diversity & Inclusion category for her work with the Infinity Project Application Support Committee. Stephanie is the incoming 2024 President of the Infinity Project. The mission of The Infinity Project is to achieve gender equity and increase diversity in the state and federal bench to ensure the quality of justice in Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit.
Iverson Reuvers attorneys Paul Reuvers and Andrew Wolf recently submitted an amicus curiae (Latin: “friend of the court”) brief on behalf of the American Planning Association-Minnesota Chapter in the ongoing fight over the City of Minneapolis’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Minnesota has long been a model for regional comprehensive planning, but the injunction order currently being appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals threatens the quality, efficacy, and future of comprehensive municipal plans in our state.
In 2022, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided Puce v. City of Burnsville, 971 N.W.2d 285 (Minn. App. 2022), a case involving municipal park dedication fees under Minn. Stat. § 462.358, subd. 2b & 2c. Under the state statute cities may impose park dedication fees instead of requiring a dedication of a reasonable portion of the buildable land for public use. Here Almir Puce applied to the City of Burnsville to redevelop his residential property into commercial property, and it ultimately imposed an $11,700 park dedication fee.
Puce filed a lawsuit, claiming in part that the city’s application of its ordinance did not comply with the subdivision statute and had resulted in an unconstitutional taking of his property in violation of state and federal constitutional provisions. The district court ruled in the city’s favor, upholding the park dedication fee.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision, concluding that the city’s imposition of the park dedication fee did not comply with the subdivision statute, based on the lack of the city’s “individualized determination” of the proposed development’s impact on city parkland. The Court of Appeals ruled that a city may impose a park dedication fee only if it first reasonably determines that it will need to acquire and develop or improve a reasonable portion of parkland because of the development’s approval. The Court of Appeals also ruled that there must be a rough proportionality between the fee and the need for the acquisition and development or improvement of parkland due to the proposed development, as demonstrated by an individualized determination that the fee is related both in nature and extent to the proposed development’s impact.
Critically, the City of Burnsville used a dedication fee formula in arriving at the figure it ultimately imposed, and the Court of Appeals holding seemed to suggest dedication formulas (used by countless municipalities throughout the state) were invalid and per se violative of the statue.
On September 28, 2023, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision holding:
The city’s park dedication fee has an “essential nexus,” as required by Minnesota Statutes section 462.358, subdivision 2c(a), because there is some logical connection between the imposed park dedication fee and the municipal purpose sought to be achieved by the fee, and has a “rough proportionality” as required by the same statute, because the city made an individualized determination that the fee is related to the impact of the proposed development.
The city complied with Minnesota Statutes section 462.358, subdivision 2b(e) because the city made a reasonable determination that it would need 5 percent of the gross land area of the development to maintain open space in proportion to city projections.
The quick take-away is park dedication fee formulas are valid, but it is not a free pass to simply name a number. There needs to be some consideration as to how a city gets there.
If you have any questions regarding how your local government can comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Puce, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of the attorneys who represented the City before the Supreme Court, Paul Reuvers or Andrew Wolf.
In a pair of recent trials with lasting impacts for municipalities, Iverson Reuvers attorneys Paul Reuvers and Andrew Wolf successfully defended two cities planning for a sustainable, climate-resilient futures.
The first, Jeffrey Bahe, Robert A. Williams vs City of Columbia Heights, 02-CV-20-3146, challenged the City of Columbia Heights efforts to enforce its Zoning Ordinance against harmful long-standing, though illegal, automobile impound and outdoor storage uses. The Court found the use of the property at issue was an illegal nonconformity, and the City did not commit any wrongful conduct by failing to enforce its Zoning Ordinance against the Property sooner.
The second, Robert C. Tengdin, Trustee of the Robert C. Tengdin Revocable Trust dated May 18, 2009 vs City of Edina, 27-CV-20-2227, alleged the City of Edina failed to properly inspect, repair, and maintain a wetland, which was the natural depository of stormwater within the City. The issue came to a head in 2019, which was one of the wettest years and the last year in the wettest decade in Minnesota’s recorded history, when the natural wetland flooded surrounding properties. At trial, Reuvers and Wolf showed the City was not only not negligent, but was a sterling example for other municipalities trying to become more climate change resilient by tacking their water issues in sustainable and efficient manner. Following a four-day trial the district court concluded the climate, and prolonged period of greater than average rainfall, caused the flooding issues, not the City. The Court further found no actions by the City caused the accumulation of water, and no inspection or maintenance activities could have prevented it.
Five Iverson Reuvers Attorneys were recognized as 2023 Super Lawyers. Jon K. Iverson, Paul D. Reuvers, Jason J. Kuboushek, Jason M. Hiveley, and Stephanie A. Angolkar were named in this year’s Super Lawyers lists. These lists are exclusive, naming no more than 5 percent of attorneys in Minnesota to Super Lawyers. The selections are made through peer nominations, independent research, and evaluations from a highly credentialed panel of attorneys.
Ashley Ramstad has joined Iverson Reuvers as an associate attorney. Ashley was formerly a public defender in Washington County and clerked for the Honorable Pamela A.W. King in Olmsted County district court. She holds a B.S. in public relations and advertising from NDSU, B.A. in philosophy from Minnesota State University Moorhead, summa cum laude, M.A. in philosophy from Texas Tech University, and a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Stephanie Angolkar of Iverson Reuvers and Tim Masterson of McCollum Crowley P.A. obtained a defense verdict in Hennepin County District Court on November 21, 2022 in a products liability action. The plaintiff alleged she was injured by a pressure cooker. Plaintiff requested nearly $31 million from the jury. The jury applied Texas substantive law to address whether there was a defect, finding no manufacturing defect, design defect, or design in labeling or warnings. The jury assigned 92.5% negligence to Plaintiff and 7.5% negligence to the Defendant Seller.