The Minnesota Supreme Court announced it will review the Puce v. Burnsville park fee suit following the city of Burnsville’s appeal of a February Court of Appeals victory for project applicant Almir Puce.
At a mid-January 2019 meeting, the Burnsville Planning Commission voted 4-1 to approve Puce’s commercial project with 17 conditions, one of which was the payment of a $37,804 park fee. Puce asked the city to waive the fee as the proposed three-phased development that included a proposed auto dealership and bakery would not result in the need for more parks.
At a late-January 2019 meeting of the Burnsville City Council, Puce again objected to the payment of this fee. In February 2019, the city reduced the proposed fee to $11,700. The city had no plan for new parks and no evidence that this development would cause a need for a new park, as a home currently existed on the property.
Puce then sued the city. The city of Burnsville won in the initial hearing held in District Court. The Court of Appeals subsequently reversed the Dakota County District Court ruling, noting, “In this case, there is nothing in the record that is an ‘individualized determination’ concerning the ‘nature and extent’ of ‘the impact of the proposed development,’ let alone an ‘effort to quantify’ that impact. . . . Accordingly, there is not a rough proportionality between the park-dedication fee and any need for the acquisition and development or improvement of parkland as a result of the City’s approval of Puce’s development application.” In the Minnesota Supreme Court’s filing accepting the appeal, the Court also granted the League of Minnesota Cities’ request to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief. No hearing date has been set. The decision on this case could have rippling effects on park fees and development in Minnesota.