Buy the Farm – a landowner win in District Court!


Transmission going up in SW Minnesota (Fair Use – from

As Xcel tries to build its CapX 2020 wonderland, and as people are being served with Petitions for condemnation of their land for easements for this transmission buildout, people are starting to stand up and holler:


Buy the Farm, that little statutory out for landowners who don’t want anything to do with a transmission line, it gives them the option to say to the utilities, “NO, you’re not getting an easement, you’ve got to BUY THE FARM!“  Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4.

Seems a number of landowners on the St. Cloud-Monticello part of the Fargo-Monticello CapX 2020 transmission line were telling Xcel/GRE a/k/a “CapX 2020 Applicants” what to do with their condemnation petitions, and so the utilities started playing hardball.

First, the bad news — the important newsif you want them to BUY THE FARM, you have 60 days, and no more. That’s 60 days when you’re first served with a Petition for Condemnation.  The people who were late were tossed out of court.  Moral to this story?  You snooze, you LOSE!  Please don’t snooze.

When a landowner is faced with condemnation, here’s a typical sample of what they get:

Utility’s Response to Buy the Farm Election by Landowner – March 1, 2011

Look at what they’re “asking” for – what a load:



So based on this, the landowners response was an eloquent PPPPPFFFFFFBBBBBBBBBBBT!

Respondents Stice and Shores Reply to Petitioner’s Response to Landowner Election of Buy the Farm – April 18, 2011

Oh, we’re ramping up here… now for their Memorandum:

Respondents Stice and Shore Memorandum of Law – April 18, 2011

And the utility attorneys argue that no, they don’t HAVE to move, they don’t get anything…

Utility Memo Arguing No Relocation, that Ch. 117 doesn’t apply

And the Court says…  (…drumroll …):

Wright County Order – July 13, 2011

Short version:

  1. One party’s motion for minimum compensation and relocation benefits granted, Minn. Stat. 117.187 and 117.52 apply to 216E.12.
  2. Another party’s motion relocation assistance, minimum compensation and loss of going concerned DENIED, stating there’s information to determination if their property is commercially viable.
  3. Another party tossed out, you snooze, you LOSE, there’s a 60 day window for Buy the Farm, and no more.  Close doesn’t count.
  4. Fourth party delayed until they have more time for Discovery and have a hearing later this month.

READ THE DECISION, really, this is probably the MUST READ of the year.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace