Firm Wins First Ever ‘Buy-the-Farm’ Objection Trial

Minnesota law provides certain categories of landowners, whose property is being condemned by electric utilities for the construction of high voltage transmission lines (HVTL) of 200,000 volts or more, the right to require those electric utilities to compensate the landowners for the fair market value of the entirety of their property, rather than just the easement area. This law is known as the “Buy the Farm” (BTF) Law, although it also applies to residential property.

A large consortium of electric utilities, led by Xcel Energy and named CapX2020, are in the process of constructing an HVTL about 700 miles long across the State of Minnesota. Many property owners have made BTF elections, requiring the CapX utilities to buy all of their property. These BTF elections have been met with significant resistance by the utilities, which have raised a number of objections to the landowners’ elections. Many of CapX’s objections were resolved before any trial occurred, but a number were set for trial during 2014.

The first trial involved the election of Dave and Florence Minar, whose farm, Cedar Summit Dairy, is located near New Prague in Scott County. The Minar family has had a long- term commitment to organic farming, and their farm is the only one in Minnesota that is not only organic, but has 100% grass-fed cows. The milk produced at the Minar farm is unique in its health benefits, and is sold both on the farm and in many co-operatives in the Twin Cities area. CapX made a number of objections to the Minar’s BTF election, which were all considered by Judge Carolyn Lennon in the following opinion. Judge Lennon rejected each of those objections and ordered the utilities to purchase the Minar’s entire 134-acre farm. After the Minar trial, CapX withdrew all objections to the other elections made by our firm’s clients.

Read Judge Lennon’s opinion.

Malkerson Gunn Martin has one of the most experienced team of condemnation lawyers in the State of Minnesota. Learn more about Rod Krass, Rachel Lorentz and our eminent domain practice.