In July, the city came up with an estimate of exactly how much Malensek would be assessed for the utilities expansion: $22,800 per acre. In other words, Malensek would have to pay some $1.8 million in assessments for sewer and water services that he'll never actually use.
Not surprisingly, he isn't willing to pony up the money. Malensek believes that the city is essentially trying to blackmail him into developing the property so that they can benefit from the increase in property taxes. He argues that he should only be assessed for utilities on the eight acres that won't be set aside in a conservation easement.
John Malensek: "We've got a bunch of people who are just gung ho to develop every single acre of land in the county"
"They need money," Malensek says. "I'm their piggy bank. If I develop it, they get lots of money."
The city has now backed off from the $22,800 figure and is in the process of calculating a different assessment. "I don't have a better figure for you," says City Administrator James Willis. "Whatever the numbers are, it's a lot of money."
He insists that the city is continuing to work with Malensek and county officials in hopes of coming to a solution that is agreeable to everyone. "We're all trying to do due diligence on this thing," he says. "I think we'll continue to talk. I don't see this as something that's in jeopardy."
This is farfrom the first time that Malensek has tussled with the city of Inver Grove Heights. He's been doing sporadic battle with the municipality for more than a decade. Back in 1990, the city wanted his land for a municipal golf course that was supposedly going to provide a permanent salve for the city's financial problems.
"That golf course was going to take care of everything," recalls City Council member Piekarski Krech, who at the time was mayor. "That was the big sell: We're never going to have financial problems again."
When Malensek refused to sell, the city threatened to seize his property through eminent domain. The doctor responded by hiring the high-power law firm of Faegre & Benson and digging in his heels. The city ultimately relented. His property is now surrounded by the 27-hole Inver Wood Golf Course. "That's where my trouble started," Malensek says.
In the wake of the golf-course dispute, the disgruntled property owner ran for the City Council. He attacked the sitting council members for spending money on frivolous projects such as the golf course and ignoring pollution concerns, particularly those stemming from the city's Pine Bend landfill.
"I am not a politician," Malensek declared in a mailing at the time, "but I feel I am more qualified than the present councilmen who have been in office for 10 years and helped to make Inver Grove Heights the cesspool of the metropolitan area."
The neophyte politician narrowly lost.
With the City Council blocking his attempt to enjoin his property from future development, Malensek is once again trying to force the issue through electoral politics. Last week, he had 5,000 flyers printed criticizing council member Klein and asking voters to turn him out of office. The flyer was distributed this week to residents inside copies of the South-West Review newspaper.
Whatever the outcome of the election, Malensek vows to keep the land that he's occupied for 40 years out of the hands of developers. "They think they're gonna scare me into doing something stupid," he says. "It's the principle of the thing. It's not about money--because I'm not gonna get any if I win."