Cass County Board: Cartway, easement opens up landlocked property

LEECH LAKE TOWNSHIP -- Cass County Board voted Tuesday, Aug. 20, to establish a 33-foot wide cartway across property owned by David and Samantha Nikkel and to grant a 33-foot easement across county-managed tax-forfeited property in Unorganized Township.

It now becomes a road open to the public, but any improvements to open it will be at the expense of the petitioners Mark and Tim Dorholt, who sought a road access to their landlocked acreage.

The Dorholts first petitioned the county for an easement across the tax-forfeited land in May 2015, but to reach a county road, they also needed a right of way across land owned by the Nikkels.

The Dorholts then filed a cartway petition in June 2016 to seek the needed access along the Nikkels’ property line.

In March 2017, the county board voted to establish a cartway along a section line. That placed half of the cartway, or 16.5 feet, along the edge of the Nikkel and tax-forfeited properties, with the other half across the section line on property owned by Blandin.


Blandin earlier had placed its land in a conservation easement with the state of Minnesota. In subsequent court hearings, the courts ruled the Blandin property conservation easement prevented the county from having authority to grant a cartway or easement across any portion of it.

After a variety of court rulings and county board actions, the district court ruled July 30 the county must grant a 33-foot cartway entirely on the Nikkel property and a full 33-foot easement on the tax-forfeited property, with none being on Blandin property.

Among actions the county board took between 2017 and 2019, the board awarded $1,000 to the Nikkels and $500 to the county from an escrow account the county required from the Dorholts.

The final court disposition calls for the county to pay the Nikkels an additional $1,000 for their loss of land to the cartway and to pay $1,000 to the county land department as tax-forfeited land manager.

The remaining $1,623.12 in the escrow account will be refunded to the Dorholts. Any person wishing to appeal a damage award has 40 days from July 30 to file their appeal with the court.

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