Judge Guthmann's Findings 4/10/2021

Documents from the  1/29/21 hearing

City's case, hearing document

NLSP Hearing notes. Not a Court Document

NLSP response to City's Attempt to Dismiss

Click on the pdf button below to open our response to the court. It is 16 pages long. This response has been accepted by the Court and will serve as the basis of our argument at the hearing on January 29th (see notice on this page).

If you haven't read the City's original response to Neighbor's writ it might be a good idea to just do so before you begin. It's 50 pages long so you might just sample the document. Link on HOME page, top left box.

NLSP Writ Explained

As many of you are aware, several Saint Paul residents affiliated with Neighbors For A Livable Saint Paul filed a Writ of Mandamus action under Minn. Stat. § 586.01 in Ramsey County District Court. The purpose of this action is to compel the City to follow their own law by applying the plain meaning of "open space" in the Zoning Code and Ford Site Master Plan. The City and Ryan are trying to count private apartment balconies and private decks within the limits of the building as "open space", conflating the clearly codified distinction between lot coverage by buildings and lot coverage for open space, and inflating the scale of this already out-of-scale project.

 

The City responded by filing a motion to dismiss arguing that the residents' claim is a land use dispute that is to be adjudicated under Minn. Stat. § 462.361. The City also argued that the court has no jurisdiction and the residents have no standing because the residents did not appeal within 10 days of the Zoning Administrator's failure to execute their

legal duty to apply the Code and the Master Plan in accordance with its plain meaning.

 

Actually, the Writ of Mandamus action is often applied in the context of land use issues; especially to compel governments to perform a clear legal duty. Interestingly, in their motion to dismiss the action, the City actually cited (for a different reason) case law which clearly stands for the notion that a § 586.01. Writ of Mandamus is a perfect remedy for the residents' claim.

 

Also, the City's insinuation that the residents had a duty to appeal within 10 days of the Zoning Administrators failure to follow their own law is really difficult to take seriously and there are several very strong counter arguments to be made. What were the petitioners supposed to appeal? A back-room decision, to which the general public was not privy, and where the intention was to knowingly circumvent the plain meaning of the Code and the Master Plan?

 

Our team of lawyers, both paid and volunteer, is exploring all available arguments and is working diligently to prepare a response asking the court to deny the City's motion to dismiss. We anticipate that response will be filed in mid January. There is a hearing scheduled for late January on the City's motion to dismiss.

 

We will continue to keep you posted on this matter.

 

NLSP remains committed to promoting responsible community development that enhances the existing neighborhood and the City overall. we need your financial support to ensure that we have the resources to help fund this effort, the pending petition, and future legal action. Please consider making a contribution to support NLSP's Legal Action Fund by clicking HERE.