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Apple farm dispute goes to hearing

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Orchard: Owners try to resurrect previously rejected plan

By Associated Press

SANTA FE (AP) — The operators of a historic New Mexico apple orchard that was destroyed by fire and flooding last year are locked in a battle with the state over the future of the land.
The longtime operators of Dixon’s Apple Orchard began efforts Monday to resurrect a previously rejected plan to lease the farm to San Felipe Pueblo, the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.
Becky and Jim Mullane appealed State Land Commissioner Ray Powell’s rejection of their $2.8 million lease proposal involving the pueblo and hope ongoing hearings on the issue might bring a reversal.
Powell, in rejecting the pueblo lease deal, said continuing the 75-year lease agreement reached with the farm by then-Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons in 2007 is not a good deal for the state land trust, which benefits public schools and other entities.
The leased property includes 8,500 acres adjacent to the orchard for which the Mullanes pay just $100 a year, a rate that would be locked in for decades if the lease assignment with the pueblo is accepted, Powell noted.
Former state District Judge James Hall is scheduled to hear testimony this week and will make a recommendation in the form of a report to Powell, who can accept or reject the findings.


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