Lonny C. Sandahl and Lilian K. Sandahl, Appellants
City Council of City of Larimore, Appellee
from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast
Central Judicial District, the Honorable Lolita G. Hartl
A. Escarraman, for appellants.
E. Quinn (argued), Assistant City Attorney, and Daniel L.
Gaustad (on brief), City Attorney, for appellee.
1] Lonny and Lilian Sandahl appeal from a judgment denying
their request to submit additional evidence and affirming a
City of Larimore decision finding a building on their
property was dangerous and unsafe and ordering demolition of
the building. We conclude the Sandahls' self-represented
notice of appeal to the district court was not timely under
N.D.C.C. § 28-34-01 and Zajac v. Traill Cty. Water
Res. Dist., 2016 ND 134, and we vacate the judgment and
remand to the district court to dismiss the appeal.
2] In September 2014, Larimore served the Sandahls with a
notice of a public nuisance and order to repair or demolish
buildings on three parcels of their property in Larimore,
including a building at 107 Pate Avenue. The Sandahls
appeared at a public hearing before the Larimore City Council
on March 2, 2015, to contest the designation of the building
as a public nuisance. At that meeting, the Larimore City
Council determined the building was unsafe and dangerous and
ordered demolition of the building. On March 3, 2015,
Larimore issued a written decision stating the building was
an unsafe and dangerous dwelling and deemed an excessive
burden to rehabilitate. Larimore's written decision
ordered the Sandahls to demolish the building within thirty
days. On March 5, 2015, Larimore issued a notice of findings
of fact and order for demolition, and the documents were
served on the Sandahls on March 12, 2015, by the sheriff of
Grand Forks County.
3] On April 13, 2015, the Sandahls filed with the district
court a self-represented notice of appeal under N.D.C.C.
§ 28-34-01, and through counsel, subsequently moved to
submit additional evidence under N.D.C.C. § 28-34-01(3).
The court denied the Sandahls' motion to submit
additional evidence and affirmed Larimore's decision
ordering demolition of the building.
4] Although not raised by Larimore and not examined by the
district court, we initially consider a jurisdictional issue
involving the timeliness of the Sandahls' appeal to the
district court under N.D.C.C. § 28-34-01. An appeal from
an administrative decision to a district court invokes that
court's appellate jurisdiction, not its original
jurisdiction. See Lende v. North Dakota
Workers' Comp. Bureau, 1997 ND 178, ¶ 10, 568
N.W.2d 755. A district court's appellate jurisdiction
over administrative orders is governed by statute.
Id. "The right to appeal is a jurisdictional
matter which we may consider sua sponte." Id.
(quoting In re J.K.M., 557 N.W.2d 229, 230 (N.D.
5] Section 28-34-01, N.D.C.C., deals with appeals from local
governing bodies and provides, in part:
This section, to the extent that it is not inconsistent with
procedural rules adopted by the North Dakota supreme court,
governs any appeal provided by statute from the decision of a
local governing body, except those court reviews provided
under sections 2-04-11 and 40-51.2-15. For the purposes of
this section, "local governing body" includes any
officer, board, commission, resource or conservation
district, or other political subdivision. Each appeal is
governed by the following procedure:
1. The notice of appeal must be filed with the clerk of the
court within thirty days after the decision of the local
governing body. A copy of the notice of appeal must be served
on the local governing body in the manner provided by rule 4
of the North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure.
6] In Zajac, 2016 ND 134, ¶¶ 7-8, we
recently considered a similar issue about the timeliness of
an appeal to the district court from a ...