Judge dismisses Arbor Park lawsuit

Judge dismisses Arbor Park lawsuit Click to Enlarge

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit contesting the results of the Arbor Park election.

District Judge Steven Marquart of Fargo on Friday dismissed the suit that challenged results of a June 20 election, where voters narrowly approved the city’s plan to allow development of a five-story condo on the Arbor Park site. The vote was 2,451 to 2,271.

“We’re quite pleased that the judge found in the city’s favor,” Grand Forks city administrator Todd Feland. “Now we can move forward with development.”

Park supporters questioned the use of a single voting site (Alerus Center) and the disqualification of two absentee ballots.

In his ruling, Marquart said the city had "no intent to suppress the vote total" by using a single polling place. The judge said the city had "good and sufficient reason to have a single polling place," adding that the city has the power to designate polling places according to the state Century Code.

Regarding the two contested absentee ballots, Marquart said the city "properly rejected" them, since they were postmarked on the day of the election or later. He said the absentee ballot envelopes "clearly" indicate that the ballot must be postmarked before the day of the election.

The ruling also requires the plaintiffs to pay the city's legal fees.

Attorney Henry Howe represents a group of park supporters who filed the suit. On Friday, Howe said he planned to meet with them, but did not know if there would be an appeal.

Feland said an appeal would not change the city’s plans.

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