FORT ANN | The owner of Greenthumb Nursery is suing the school district because he says school officials have blocked his access to cross his property.
Mike Dornan owns three separate parcels that surround the school property. The dispute dates back to this summer, when school officials took down fences that surround an easement to cross his property.
Dornan says there is a stipulation in the deeds that “suitable fences” must be maintained on the boundary of a 25-foot right of way.
Dornan was worried that without the fences, schoolchildren could be hurt if they are chasing balls or wandering into the area of the easement, where they could be injured by heavy farm equipment, trucks and other vehicles he uses to get to the back of the property.
The district eventually put up new fences, but did not provide gates or some type of opening. Without them, Dornan’s heavy trucks and farm equipment cannot enter or exit from the right of way, according to the lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court of Washington County.
The district also has thrown brush onto his property, according to Dornan.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 8 in state Supreme Court of Washington County, seeks restoration of access, as well as monetary damages and legal fees.
Dornan claims he is being targeted by the district because of his outspoken opposition to the Common Core standards.
“Defendant’s actions were made with intent to chill plaintiff Dornan’s public opposition to Common Core testing, and to discourage him from advocating a boycott of Common Core tests and to punish plaintiff for his views,” the lawsuit said.
He said the school district also has attempted to interfere with an annual fundraising event he holds called Run-A-Muck.
School officials claim in their legal documents that they cleaned up that section of the property and removed the old barbed wire fence because it was in disrepair and dangerous.
They also say that Run-A-Muck participants were spilling over onto district property, a claim Dornan denies. School officials were asking him to submit a facility use form and obtain liability insurance for the event.
Dornan said he just wants the situation resolved.
“My goal is to make the school do the right thing,” he said.
Superintendent Kevin Froats said Friday that the district’s lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit.
“Once we have the opportunity to advise the board, the board will then make a statement,” he said.
Froats said previously the improvements that were being made along the perimeter of the property line were being done to keep students and community members safe.