The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 31, 2007

Mills Fleet Farm in property challenge

No announcement yet, but company disputes assessment

Tim Krohn

MANKATO — There are still no announced plans for a Mills Fleet Farm coming to Mankato, but the company apparently has a considerable stake in a large parcel of prime development land.

The property, on the corner of Highways 14 and 22, is a field of more than 45 acres. It has, for years, been owned by a Rochester developer.

Recently, Mills Properties Inc. filed suit in tax court challenging the assessment on 35 acres of the property.

The value of the property went from $1.9 million last year to $5.3 million this year. Property taxes went from $60,724 last year to $68,590 this year, according to Blue Earth County Taxpayer Services.

Mills Properties Inc. alleges the property has been unfairly or unequally assessed in comparison with other property and that the assessment and taxes are too high.

Blue Earth County Assessor Julie Roisen said she was trying to determine what legal standing Mills Properties had in challenging the property because it is not listed as the owner.

John Kahler, the Rochester developer who owns the land, said he has been working with Mills Properties but said he did not want to comment in detail.

“I’ve been careful with developing that land. I don’t have all my plans set yet, so I’d rather not talk about it right now.”

A spokesman from Mills corporate office in Appleton, Wis., would say only that they have “no plans on the board right now” for a Fleet Farm in Mankato.

Because of its size and location, the property — skirted by Drummers Garden Center and Floral, Menards and the Country Inn and Suites — is considered one of the prime spots in Mankato’s fast-growing northeast side.