Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When is a Ditch a Swale?

Clark v. Yellow Medicine County Bd. of Commissioners, 2006 Minn. Unpub. LEXIS 948 (August 22, 2006)
Knutson petitioned for a conditional use permit for construction of a hog feedlot and Larson, a citizen, objected, saying that the proposed project violated setback requirements in that there was a drainage ditch too close to the boundary of the proposed feedlot. The county found that the natural feature was a field break, swale or natural ravine not subject to the setback requirement and granted the permits.

Larson sued out a taxpayer mandamus action to rescind the permits, but the Board was granted summary judgment. Another mandamus action followed, this time filed by one Clark, alleging that the natural feature had been converted into a drainage ditch as set forth in a letter from Larson. The court again granted summary judgment.

On appeal, the court determined that the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata applied and prohibited relitigation of issues that had already been decided in the previous action.


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