N.D. decision orders sale of land

Keith Loria May 14, 2010, 3:02pm


BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) - The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a Minneapolis non-profit must sell its land in North Dakota because of state restrictions on corporate ownership.

The decision, delivered by Judge Bruce B. Haskell, overturns a June 2009 Southeast District Court ruling that allowed Crosslands,a Inc., which develops duck nesting grounds, to keep 527 acres of a 949-acre tract bought by the nonprofit in November 2003.

"We have considered the remaining issues and arguments raised by the parties and find them to be either unnecessary to our decision or without merit," Haskell's opinion said.

"We reverse the judgment and remand for entry of judgment directing Crosslands to divest itself of the entire 949 acre tract within one year from the date of this opinion."

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem appealed the original decision, which ordered Crosslands to divest itself of certain rural land it had purchased but allowed the non-profit to retain other purchased rural land.

The state argued in its appeal that allowing Crosslands to keep its property would create a loophole in North Dakota's anti-corporate farming law, which in turn could allow non-profits to buy thousands of acres of wetlands with no state government oversight.

The ruling calls for Crosslands, which was founded by Minneapolis gold and silver dealer James Coo, to sell all the tract it owns in the next year, as the owners did not seek the governor's endorsement before the sale was completed.

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