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State by Rochester Historic Pres. Comm. v. City of Rochester - C6-97-139, 1997 Minn. App. LEXIS 1003 (Ct. App. Sep. 2, 1997)

Rule:

The Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) defines natural resources to include all mineral, animal, botanical, air, water, land, timber, soil, quietude, recreational and historical resources. Minn. Stat. § 116B.02, subd. 4 (1996). The MERA does not define "historical resources," but the supreme court identified factors to be taken into account in determining whether a building is subject to protection under the MERA, looking principally to the criteria used for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places: The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects of State and local importance that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association and: (1) That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or (2) That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or (3) That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or (4) That have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

Facts:

Respondent City of Rochester sought to demolish a bathhouse located at a public park. Appellant historic preservation committee filed suit pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 116B.04 (1996) of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) seeking to stop the demolition. The district court held that the bathhouse was not a historic resource entitled to protection under MERA. Appellant appealed the district court’s decision. The state court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision

Issue:

Was the bathhouse a historic resource entitled to protection under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA)?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

Appellant historic preservation committee did not present evidence sufficient to show that the bathhouse was a protectible historical resource within the meaning of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA). Using the Powderly factors, the bathhouse was not associated with historic events and the lives of significant persons, did not embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, and did not yield information important in prehistory or history.

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