Sides may meet in MUSD land controversy

Kelly Anderson is a former mayor and former chairman of the State Transportation Board. [file]

After a tense school board session Wednesday, two sides may be coming together to discuss the issues that created an impasse.

Kelly Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Palmisano Farms, said the attorney for Maricopa Unified School District reached out to him Thursday. They plan to meet in some form within the week, he said.

“I’m not out to be the bad guy here,” Anderson said.

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When he declined to sign a pesticide covenant last week, the school district’s purchase of land for a second high school stopped cold. By law, agricultural properties cannot use dangerous pesticides within a quarter-mile of a school.

The proposed tract, part of Maricopa 240 LLC’s Cortona property south of Farrell Road, is currently a pecan grove off Murphy Road. It is less than a quarter mile from Anderson Palmisano’s south border.

“It’s good news, exciting news, that they reached out,” Anderson said.

Anderson, former mayor of Maricopa, sent a letter to the district in May stating his opposition to the school-site selection. He said he intended for the letter to be read into the public record, but instead it became part of a closed executive session.

“If that had been read into the record as intended, we probably wouldn’t have had all this happening,” he said.

No one from district administration followed up with him, he said, adding he did not hear from MUSD until he received the pesticide covenant last week. That covenant, he said, should have gone out to landowners much earlier in the process.

During Wednesday’s MUSD Governing Board meeting, his wife Torri called the lack of communication from the district “offensive.” Torri Anderson is a member of the governing board.

Kelly Anderson read the letter into the record during the call to the public portion of meeting.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said representatives of the district, including an attorney and a broker, had contacted the Andersons during the process. The Andersons denied that assertion.

Besides needing to talk through concerns about the pesticide covenant, Kelly Anderson said he had serious issues with the chosen site. While there is irrigation through the area, the property does not have water and sewer utilities.

The needed improvements, he said, will take a lot of money and even more time.