Court of Appeals Partly Reverses Ruling on Dock Crossing Lake Minnetonka Property
The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently reversed a District Court ruling against the owners of a Lake Minnetonka property. The District Court had previously ruled that the owners of the home had no say in the placement of a public dock on their own property.
The Schusslers, the homeowners, sued the City of Minnetonka over a public dock that extended across the water and in front of their lakefront home. The District Court had ruled that the City’s rights superseded the Schusslers’ rights, and therefore, the City had a right to keep the dock in its existing location. However, on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in part. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the City and the Schusslers share a right to the water in front of the Schusslers’ lakefront home, and as such the City’s exercise of its rights must be reasonable.
The public dock is the result of an easement platted in the 1880s, which gave fire trucks access to the lake as a source of water. The District Court held that, because of that easement, the City’s rights took priority over the Schusslers’ rights to that area of water. However, the Court of Appeals noted that the District Court’s ruling did not address the reasonableness of the City’s use. The Court of Appeals laid out factors to consider when determining whether the City’s use was reasonable.
The Court of Appeals also left open the question of whether the public dock complies with the current lake ordinances. That question, along with the central question of reasonableness, will be sent back to the District Court to decide.