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Ruling could limit options for property owners

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news Rosemount, 55024

Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court has pretty much eliminated the ability for cities to grant variances. That means residents who want to deviate from the city's building ordinances will likely be turned down.

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"This will limit our ability to be flexible," said city administrator Dwight Johnson of the ruling.

While the June ruling won't affect a large number of Rosemount property owners, it will likely irritate some.

City planner Eric Zweber said the city has considered 20 variance proposals since 2003. It has approved about two-thirds of the requests.

"It's not a big request for us, but it was a tool in the development box," said Zweber.

The issue went before the court after a lawsuit filed by the neighbor of a Minnetonka property owner who had been granted a variance to expand a garage.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that variances are not permissible based on the interpretation of a state statute. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of two lower courts.

Before the ruling, Rosemount officials interpreted the statute to mean that as long as owners could prove an "undue hardship" a land use variance was permissible. Zweber said the interpretation of the Supreme Court does not agree with that.

While the ruling limits what the city can approve, Zweber said city staff will work with residents to make sure they can do as much as possible with their property.

"People doing expansions will have to be more conscious but we will work with them," said Zweber.

The state legislature could step in and reword the text of the statute to make it less strict for cities. Johnson said they hope the state legislature will address the issue during the next session.

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