While surprised and disappointed by a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision that voided a dock ordinance enacted four years ago, the city of Waconia respects the court’s decision.

That’s the perspective of the city council following a discussion with legal counsel after the state court handed down its ruling, according to new City Administrator Shane Fineran, who inherited the nearly four-year legal matter.

In a ruling filed June 16, the high court held that city ordinance 707 which prohibits the construction of permanent docks on lake/wetland lots within the city is functionally a zoning regulation and that the city failed to comply with procedural requirements outlined in Minnesota statute for amending or adopting a zoning ordinance.

The ruling pertains to a permanent injunction the city had sought against Waconia residents Jayson and Cristine Dock over construction of a dock on Lake Waconia that the city said violates its ordinance (No. 707) and asked for judgment ordering removal of what has been constructed.

The ordinance was adopted in October 2017. The dock in question was erected the same year.

In legal filings and appeals, the Docks have contested the validity of the ordinance as it relates to Minnesota statutes.

Earlier, both the district court and Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city, calling the ordinance valid and ordering that the dock be removed. However, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the matter, calling the dock ordinance a zoning regulation and voiding it because the city did not follow proper procedures, instead relied on its authority to regulate docks under another statute which does not require notice and a public hearing.

The ambiguity of dock ordinances and lake authority were factors throughout the case, and since the city is left with no legal recourse on the matter with the high court ruling, the ordnance will come off the books.

“We still think permanent docks present safety concerns,” said Fineran, who indicated the city will continue to evaluate the subject, and may consider some other form of regulation.

While surprised and disappointed by a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision that voided a dock ordinance enacted four years ago, the city of Waconia respects the court’s decision.That’s the perspective of the city council following a discussion with legal counsel last week after the state court handed down its ruling, according to new City Administrator Shane Fineran, who inherited the nearly four-year legal matter.In a ruling filed June 16, the high court held that city ordinance 707 which prohibits the construction of permanent docks on lake/wetland lots within the city is functionally a zoning regulation and that the city failed to comply with procedural requirements outlined in Minnesota statute for amending or adopting a zoning ordinance. The ruling pertains to a permanent injunction the city had sought against Waconia residents Jayson and Cristine Dock over construction of a dock on Lake Waconia that the city said violates its ordinance (No. 707) and asked for judgment ordering removal of what has been constructed. The ordinance was adopted in October 2017. The dock in question was erected the same year.In legal filings and appeals, the Docks have contested the validity of the ordinance as it relates to Minnesota statutes. Earlier, both the district court and Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city, calling the ordinance valid and ordering that the dock be removed.  However, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the matter, calling the dock ordinance a zoning regulation and voiding it because the city did not follow proper procedures, instead relied on its authority to regulate docks under another statute which does not require notice and a public hearing.The ambiguity of dock ordinances and lake authority were factors throughout the case, and since the city is left with no legal recourse on the matter with the high court ruling, the ordnance will come off the books. “We still think permanent docks present safety concerns,” said Fineran, who indicated the city will continue to evaluate the subject, and may consider some other form of regulation.

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