Lawsuit targets Waterloo land deal, city attorney - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lawsuit targets Waterloo land deal, city attorney

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Waterloo and Waterloo city attorney Jim Walsh. That suit will at least delay Sunnyside South, a proposed housing development which could impact a major Waterloo roadway. Developers want to buy land along San Marnan Drive so new homes can be built adjoining Sunnyside Country Club. It would force the road to be moved 70 feet to the south. The proposed deal for the land raised red flags right away for one prominent Waterloo resident and business owner who filed the lawsuit. The land in question is prime real estate next to busy San Marnan Drive and Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo. But what is the land worth? The city was prepared to sell the land for $1 and that will take the city to court. Bob Molinaro filed suit to stop the deal. The suit alleges Waterloo city attorney Jim Walsh would benefit - saying he's an investor in the development group and has advised the city in his role as city attorney.

"That land's been appraised at $41,000 an acre and the city attorney's going to buy it for a dollar and Bob feels strongly there are other people who will pay more and properly develop it different from what the city attorney proposes," said Molinaro's attorney, Dave Nagle.

Walsh declined comment to us but told the Waterloo Courier he has provided legal advice to the city regarding the land sale. Waterloo mayor Buck Clark wouldn't comment on the suit but says the development would provide a boost to the city's tax base with 20 to 25 new, pricey homes.

"Our new housing starts keep going backward. We keep getting fewer so I've made a concerted effort to make new housing starts a goal of mine so we get it equal to some of our neighbors and this project would have started that," said Clark.

Meantime, Molinaro showed up at Monday's city council meeting - sitting silently on the first bench. His attorney says the city should open the sale to anyone.

"It's the reputation it gives the city that land is sold on an inside dealer's basis rather than the open and competitive market," said Nagle.

Monday night, the council voted to delay the issue until the suit is resolved. Each of the defendants in the lawsuit, Walsh and the city, have 20 days to respond to the suit in Black Hawk County Court.

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