The MN Court of Appeals released its decision Tuesday in the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) v. Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) case regarding the appropriateness of the sprinkler mandate. The court ruled, “DLI failed to establish a record supporting the 4,500 sq. ft. threshold for sprinklers as required by Minnesota law invalidating the sprinkler mandate.”
“We are mindful today that we are declaring a rule adopted by an administrative agency of the state invalid. We do not do so lightly, but rather thoughtfully and unanimously. Nevertheless, we are bound to apply the law.” – MN Court of Appeals
BATC filed a petition to the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this year to argue that the sprinkler rule and energy code exceed the rulemaking authority granted under Minnesota law.
“Safety is the highest priority of Minnesota builders, and we are proud that new homes in Minnesota are among the safest in the nation. The sprinkler mandate would not have changed that safety record, but it would have made homes more expensive for Minnesota families. The Court’s decision to invalidate the sprinkler rule confirms what the public, legislature, and code experts have overwhelmingly stated all along, the sprinkler mandate is arbitrary and not supported.” – David Siegel, BATC Executive Director
Here’s what you need to know:
- As of October 13, 2015, the sprinkler rule is invalidated and cannot be required in any single-family or two-family (twin home) project.
- For projects that were permitted prior to the invalidation, counsel recommends that builders seek a permit amendment and a re-stamping of the project’s plans to reflect the invalidation of the sprinkler rule.
- If a project is underway, counsel also recommends that builders seek a permit amendment and re-stamping of the project’s plans to reflect the invalidation of the sprinkler rule.
- DLI has a 30-day window to request review of this ruling by the MN Supreme Court. It’s unclear whether or not DLI and Governor Dayton will pursue this avenue. Should they, BATC is prepared and well-positioned to defend the Appellate Court decision on behalf of our members and Minnesota homebuyers.
We want to thank BATC’s Board of Directors for their leadership and perseverance in pressing forward on this issue. To our members who wrote emails, talked to legislators, contributed to Housing First and supported BATC’s efforts in ways big and small, THANK YOU!
Thanks to those who submitted briefs in support of BATC’s legal action: Builders Association of Minnesota, MN Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Home Builders in partnership with BATC member Frank Kottschade.
Finally, a special thanks to the Larkin Hoffman team who led this portion of the sprinkler mandate fight. Attorneys Peter Coyle, Rob Stefonowicz, and Bryan Huntington managed this complex and high-profile case with professionalism throughout.
Stay tuned for further updates.