Rochester Public Schools recently settled a multi-year lawsuit centered around the ownership of a communications tower at Century High School.
Although the Post Bulletin has submitted a data request for the terms of the agreement, the full details are unknown. However, the School District's attorney, Ken Schueler, said RPS came out of the process with a "net gain."
The lawsuit was brought against the district by a company called GTP Acquisition Partners II LLC. The company was seeking a judgment "in excess of $50,000, plus costs and disbursements," the complaint reads.
The company filed the lawsuit Jan. 4, 2019, meaning it took almost two years to be brought to a conclusion. The case was dismissed Dec. 8 because of the settlement. Prior to the dismissal, a trial was scheduled for late January.
The origin of the case dates back to the year 2000 when the School District entered into an agreement with Vertical Real Estate Inc., which, according to the complaint, was the "predecessor-in-interest" of GTP.
At the time, the School District was leasing a section of land at Century High School to the company for it to build a telecommunications tower. The lease was for 15 years, with options to extend it.
In April 2018, the School District informed GTP that the lease would end in May of that year. GTP said it was not abandoning the tower. The School District responded that it considered the tower abandoned property and that it planned to sell it in June 2018.
On July 24, 2018, GTP requested access to the land to begin removing the tower. The District informed the company that it would have access to the site until July 27.
In its complaint, GTP said it was unable to remove the tower in that time frame "because of the time required and difficulty in removing such personal property."
The tower is no small structure. According to the lease agreement, it stands at 180 feet tall, and its ground space covers more than 2,300 square feet.
In response to GTP's complaint, the School District provided a list of counterclaims, including that GTP didn't vacate the premises on time.
"It never retrieved its personal property within any deadline established by the Site Lease, RPS or Minnesota law," the response reads.
The district said it "sustained damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and disbursements and attorney's fees." The amount was the same amount GTP had originally sought against the district.
Schueler said RPS gained ownership of the tower and is leasing it out to another tenant.