MN Court Limits Variances to Expand Nonconforming Uses

Minnesota case law summary: variance, existing nonconforming use.

Krummenacher v. City of Minnetonka. MN variance, existing nonconforming use.

The property owner in this appeal was granted a variance to expand a nonconforming garage on her property. Neighbor, dissatisfied with this action, appealed to the City Council, which affirmed the Planning Commission's determination. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Minnesota Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Gildea, reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court held that the lower courts failed to apply the correct standard. According to the Supreme Court, the variance should be granted only if "the property in question cannot be put to reasonable use" without the variance. The case was remanded for application of this correct standard.

No. A08-1988, 783 N.W.2d 721 (Minn. June 24, 2010).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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