Amid construction for a new $38.1 million school, the Rushford-Peterson School District is facing a lawsuit revolving around property rights.
Glen Palecek owns 52 acres of land neighboring the new construction site. He said plans for the new school that accompanied the previous two referendums included construction on an easement that sits on his property. The easement allows Palecek to access his land by car, but he now says construction on the easement has made his land virtually inaccessible.
"Who would want to buy it with no way to get to it?" he said. "It's common law in Minnesota you cannot land lock land. You can't sell a piece of property and then land lock it."
Palecek filed the lawsuit in November, 2015, about a month after construction began on the new school. After numerous court hearings and depositions of a school board member and the superintendent, the case is heading to trial next week.
In a statement, the district said the purpose of the easement is for "ingress and egress" only. But Palecek said the 66-foot wide easement is actually intended to be a public road.
"The woman who sold the land to the school district testified that the intended purpose of the easement is a public road, in the case of future development on my land," he said.
Palecek said if the district would have acquired his land through eminent domain, he would have understood. But according to him, it did not.
In a sworn deposition, Rushford-Peterson Schools Superintendent Charles Ehler stated his lawyer told him he could not build anything on the easement. However, Ehler went on to testify that he did not follow his lawyer's advice.
The district declined to comment further on the lawsuit.