NM apple farm dispute goes to hearing

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The operators of an iconic New Mexico apple orchard destroyed by fire and flooding are fighting to be allowed to assign their lease to the San Felipe Pueblo.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that longtime operators Dixon's Apple Orchard on Monday tied to persuade a hearing officer to let the pueblo pay them $2.8 million for the lease.

Becky and Jim Mullane are appealing State Land Commissioner Ray Powell's decision to reject the lease assignment.

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 Hall's findings.

The flooding of the Dixon orchard's scenic canyon near Cochiti Pueblo was one result of the giant Las Conchas wildfire last year.