Re:View, Winter 2010





Editor's Corner
By  William Griffith 


Welcome to the first electronic issue of Re:View.  For over 20 years, the Land Use and Real Estate practice at Larkin Hoffman published Re:View as a service to our clients to keep them up to date on changes in law and practice in land use and real estate.  Today, our readers have indicated a clear preference for receiving timely legal news in electronic form.

In this issue of Re:View, Peter Coyle recaps the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision to significantly curb the use of variances by Minnesota cities.  He also looks forward to likely legislation offered by cities and builders to roll back the court’s decision.

Brad Hintze provides assistance to homeowners facing foreclosures by highlighting changes to foreclosure laws, including the right of homeowners to postpone a Sheriff’s sale.  Finally, Paul Linstroth, discusses a tax law change that allows real estate owners to deduct certain expenses related to qualified leasehold improvements.

We look forward to your feedback, and hope you enjoy this issue of Re:View!



Minnesota Supreme Court Halts Use of Municipal Variances

By Peter Coyle


A recent decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court that narrowly interprets the standard for approving zoning variances has brought to a halt virtually all pending municipal variance requests.  Scores of pending variance applications, including those for redevelopment of dilapidated or contaminated sites, have already been rejected by cities based on the new standard, further aggravating a difficult real estate market.



Postponing Foreclosure

By Bradley Hintze

In its two most recent sessions, the Minnesota Legislature has focused significant attention to providing assistance to homeowners that are in danger of having their home foreclosed.  Perhaps the most significant new statute is Minn. Stat. § 580.07 (2) which provides the owner of a “homestead” (as defined under Minn. Stat. § 273.124) the right to postpone a Sheriff’s Sale of their homestead property. 



New Law:  The Ability to Expense Capital Costs (Section 179 Expensing) Now Includes Certain Real Property

By Paul Linstroth

In order to allow businesses to quickly recover the cost of certain capital expenses, taxpayers can elect to deduct the cost of these expenses in the year the property is placed in service as opposed to recovering these costs over time through depreciation (Section 179 property).  For any tax year beginning in 2010 or 2011, a taxpayer may elect to treat up to $250,000 of qualified real property expenses (expenses related to qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property) as a current expense deduction (subject to a phase-out).  The annual amount which may be expensed is reduced (but not below zero) by the amount by which the cost of qualifying property placed in service in tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011 exceeds $2,000,000.



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Linda Fisher 

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