Plymouth denies dock on unusual 5-foot-wide Medicine Lake property

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2014 - 9:27 PM

The zoning denial means the owner can’t build on his narrow strip of land.

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Dan Gustafson, who owns a 5-foot-wide spit of land between two lake homes on Plymouth’s Medicine Lake, has again been denied the right to have a boat dock on the land.

Photo: File photo by Richard Sennott • rsennott@startribune.com,

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City officials in Plymouth have again denied a Minnetonka resident’s request to have a dock on an unusual 5-foot strip of land on Medicine Lake.

The City Council unanimously denied a request Tuesday that would have allowed Dan Gustafson to have a dock on the rare 5-foot-wide by 100-foot-long property he bought in 2012 to dock his boat.

On Wednesday, he said he’s disappointed with the outcome and may take the city to court.

“The city has not asked me to remove the dock, but if it does I will bring an action for injunctive relief to remedy the taking of my property that has been assessed as lakeshore with riparian rights,” he said via e-mail.

Last year, the city rejected his request. Then, earlier this month, Gustafson returned to request a zoning change; the Planning Commission agreed with a change to city code that would allow docks on land without a principal building such as a house, but kept a setback rule that a dock has to be 6 feet or more from side lot lines.

But Tuesday, the council flatly denied his request, with a formal denial expected May 13.

“I was disappointed of course,” Gustafson wrote, “particularly since the Planning Commission and city staff agreed with our position.”

He added that his request was “an accommodation to allow the city to bring its zoning ordinance into compliance with the opinions of the Minnesota Supreme Court and the City Comprehensive Plan with regard to docks and riparian rights.”

But the city says the setback rule, the same for any accessory structure like a shed, is needed to prevent conflicts. Council members added that changing the rules could have unintended consequences.

“This was going to cause more trouble, in my opinion,” Council Member Jim Prom said. “We try not to create more problems in Plymouth when we change rules or ordinances. I feel bad for [Gustafson] ... but we all make mistakes; it’s unfortunate he owns this property.”

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

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