Jury concludes zoning decreased value of couple’s property

By Janice Gregorson

An Olmsted County jury says the fair market value of property owned by a Rochester couple was affected by a new ordinance expanding the safety zone around Rochester International Airport.

Jurors said the 2002 ordinance did cause a decrease by $170,000 the fair market value of property owned by Leon and Judith DeCook.

The DeCooks own 240 acres of land on the north side of the airport. Most of that property is used for Oak Summit Golf Course.


Under the 2002 safety zone ordinance, an additional 28 acres of the DeCooks’ property was subjected to the zoning restrictions.

But the ruling doesn’t mean the city of Rochester must shell out that amount of money to the DeCooks, says Terry Adkins, city attorney.

Adkins said the jury verdict reached at the end of last week is only the first step. Now, it will be up to District Judge Debra Jacobson to decide whether $170,000 is enough to constitute a taking under the law.

Attorneys have until Dec. 1 to submit written briefs on the legal issue of whether the property has suffered a "substantial and measurable decline" in market value as a result of the 2002 zoning ordinance.

The DeCooks, in their lawsuit, state that the market value of their property diminished by more than $425,000. The city contended that the economic impact of the regulation on the property was not severe enough to constitute a taking.

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