Letter to Congregation regarding Lawsuit and Relocation

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We are pleased to announce that UUCM’s lawsuit against the City of Wayzata, which began in March 2010, is now complete. Last week, UUCM’s Board of Trustees approved a settlement agreement with the City, finalizing the process that began last December. On Monday, September 17, the settlement documents were delivered to Wayzata City Hall. This is an important step forward in our journey toward a new church home. The lawsuit was a lengthy and difficult journey. We did, however, accomplish our original goal: under the final settlement, the City will approve construction of a church at 2030 Wayzata Boulevard East. The City will also pay $500,000 that will reimburse the church’s expenses from the lawsuit and its expenses related to the application to the City in 2008 that was rejected. It will also be used to pay our law firm Gray, Plant, Mooty (GPM) for a portion of the legal fees that UUCM would have incurred had the firm not taken this case on a pro bono basis.

It is good to know, too, that our lawsuit and settlement also helped other religious groups. Our case has been closely followed by cities across Minnesota, and the news story last December regarding the settlement was carried in more than 26 newspapers and news outlets across the country. As recently as September 1, the Star Tribune referenced our case and similar cases in an article discussing increased awareness of religious liberties among city officials.

We accomplished much and we can be pleased with the lawsuit’s result.

The settlement is, of course, not perfect. Based on a few potential points of friction with the City in the settlement document, earlier this summer, UUCM asked the court to continue the lawsuit. The court, however, denied this request. In the long view, though, this is a minor setback that does not take away from the overall success of the lawsuit or our ability to confidently move forward to relocate at 2030 Wayzata Boulevard.

To be clear, accepting the settlement does not legally require us to build at the Wayzata location, but we are excited and determined to carry on with the vision and promises we’ve made to ourselves since January 2008 to build our new home there. Over the coming months, UUCM will submit a simplified application for several City approvals required to build. At the same time, the church will begin to plan our next steps to relocate.

We wish to thank our congregation’s lay members of the legal team: Alison Albrecht, Kate Flom, and Bill McKnight, and particularly Bob and Christy Dachelet. This team spent countless hours meeting and directing our legal effort on behalf of the Board and on behalf of our continuing congregational vision. We also extend grateful appreciation to the lawyers on our terrific legal team including Sam Diehl, Dean LeDoux and Joy Anderson, and all the folks at GPM, without whom we would not have this wonderful opportunity.

As this process continues, we have good reason to be proud of our efforts. However reluctantly we began the lawsuit, it was necessary to accomplish our goals.

Signed,

UUCM Board of Trustees: Marc Doepner-Hove, Chris Barry, Tom Lindquist, Sue Vigliaturo, Allan Green, Jackie Zimmerman, Kathy Stuebner, Amy Burt, and Pat Baker. Kent Hemmen Saleska, Minister