NORTH MANKATO — An English poet once said "No Man is an Island," but, when it comes to becoming a North Mankato resident, Robert Chester would prefer to keep his piece of the continent off the city¹s tax roll.
The City Council showed it is behind him for now by not acting on a staff recommendation to annex Chester¹s property, which is now completely surrounded by a housing development within the city limits. That was after City Attorney Michael Kennedy told the board that forced annexations are rare due to the legal costs that can follow.
Chester has had a house and outbuildings on his two-acre parcel at 2240 Coventry Lane long before the city¹s boundaries stretched north. As the housing development grew around him, the city has made offers to annex his property without a fight.
Chester¹s water well is on a neighboring property and he has an access agreement that has been in place for more than 25 years.
The well agreement is keeping the owner of the neighboring property from moving forward with development plans. In an exchange during a public hearing before the council Monday, Chester and acting City Administrator Mike Fischer described the last round of annexation negotiations. Fischer said the city offered to have Chester hook up to city water with the agreement the city would delay annexation for three years. Chester, who has a septic system on his own property, said he
would take the offer if the city agreed to wait 10 years.
Former City Administrator Wendell Sande declined, so the negotiations are over, Chester said. He simply said "No thank you" when Mayor Mark Dehen asked if he was willing to reconsider by making a new offer.
Councilman Bill Schindle said he wouldn¹t be easily swayed to force an annexation. Everyone who bought property in the surrounding development knew Chester was there when their houses were built.
"It¹s like moving next to a train station, then saying, "I don¹t want this here anymore," Schindle said.
Another problem is the city has already created two water and sewer hookups for Chester¹s property, anticipating it will be turned into two lots some day. If the property is annexed, the city would want to assess Chester for both hookups at a cost of about $30,000 each, Fischer said.
Chester told the council he has plans in place that could eventually turn his property into three lots. He also said he never asked the city for water and sewer access.
Schindle, as well as councilmen Billy Steiner and Bob Freyberg, said, if they do consider annexation in the future, they won¹t be likely to approve two assessments for the property. They also said they would be willing to consider the recommendation again after hearing from the developer.