Judge: City Can’t Treat RV Like It’s A Building
A lakefront lot too small for a home but just the right size for an RV has survived a court dispute, according to a report by the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press.
The city of Madison Lake, Minn. is appealing a recent Blue Earth County District Court ruling in the city’s six-year land usage dispute with Mid-Central Realty owners Scott and Patricia Mende and lakefront property owner Scott Schultz.
The district court ruled that the city cannot restrict Schultz’s usage of an RV on the property despite the city’s attempts to treat the RV as a building under the Madison Lake city code.
The Mendes purchased a small lakefront property for $140,000 in 2008. They were granted a conditional-use permit by the city to build a boathouse. The Mendes then advertised the property for sale as a getaway location. Jeffery Schultz, who lives outside of Madison Lake, purchased the property and moved his RV to the location. In court documents, he said he plans to use the RV only during summer months and occasionally overnight after boating or fishing.
The city sent several messages to the Mendes and eventually to Schultz about concerns the RV usage was violating the city code. The Mendes disputed the assertion and Schultz made several unsuccessful efforts to get a change of usage for the property.
Schultz sued the Mendes for damages, claiming they misrepresented the allowed use of the property. The Mendes filed a response and then filed a third-party complaint against the city, arguing the city was improperly restricting the use of the property.
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Blue Earth County District Judge Kurt Johnson ruled in favor of the Mendes and Schultz in March. He pointed to a portion of the city code explicitly allowing RV usage as “accessory use” in R-1 properties.
Johnson rejected the city’s efforts to claim the RV is a building based on its usage. He said an RV doesn’t meet common definitions of a building. He said the RV is analogous to a tent, which is allowed under the city code.