The Higley Unified School District will have to search elsewhere to irrigate one of its schools after unsuccessfully suing a Gilbert housing community association for free use of their water.
District board members voted Thursday to settle the lawsuit for $19,500 and discussed the issue in a closed session during the regular governing board meeting.
The Higley district filed a lawsuit against the Coronado Ranch Community Association in December 2006 after the association notified the district it would no longer provide them with free well water, according to Superior Court records filed in August.
The district had entered into an agreement with the developer of the Gilbert community in November 1999, before the homeowner’s association was formed.
The agreement was that the community would provide irrigation services to the district in exchange for use of the district’s playing fields for community members.
The playing fields are presumed to be at Coronado Elementary School, which is in the Coronado Ranch community.
Coronado Ranch has 998 homes northeast of Higley and Queen Creek roads, according to their Web site.
Water was provided to the district from 2002 to 2006, which annually cost the community $12,000.
In October 2006, the Coronado Ranch association notified the district it could no longer continue the agreement.
Superior Court Judge John Buttrick agreed with the association’s decision.
“Since the association gains nothing under the agreement and suffers a perpetual burden (the obligation to provide free water) it is voidable at its option,” court records state.
Roger Wood, an attorney representing the association, said he couldn’t comment on the case because “it’s not quite finished.” He said there are other “remaining issues” to discuss.
Scott Malm, an attorney representing the district, would not comment on the lawsuit and directed questions to Fred Stone, the district’s executive director of support services. Stone said he could not talk about the specifics of the lawsuit.
District spokeswoman Sara Bresnahan would only say: “The district is looking forward to identifying an alternate source of water at this point.”