U.S. Water News Online
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in Denver has rejected an appeal aimed at canceling a water rights
deal between Dona Ana County and a Texas firm.
A federal bankruptcy court in Albuquerque last December awarded
the right to nearly 19,000 acre feet of water in the Santa Teresa
area to the county and Verde Group of Texas. The Texas group had
offered $6.4 million.
The decision came in a bankruptcy case involving Phyllis L.
Crowder, ex-wife of developer Charles Crowder, whose company at one
time owned most of the land around Santa Teresa.
Charles and Phyllis Crowder appealed the bankruptcy settlement to
the circuit court in January, saying a company run by their son,
Philip Crowder, made a larger offer than the Texas group's to buy the
permit for the water rights. The bankruptcy trustee did not consider
Philip Crowder's offer.
Charles Crowder said he will continue his three decades-long
battle for control of water in the southern New Mexico border area.
Officials of Verde Group refused to comment, saying they don't
speak to the media.
The Crowders' lawyer, Peter B. Shoenfeld of Santa Fe, recently
wrote the state engineer's office to demand a hearing on Charles
Crowder's water rights claim.
Shoenfeld wrote that denying a hearing will mean a lawsuit against
the state engineer. The state agency has not responded.
Crowder originally claimed 110,000 acre feet of water around Santa
Teresa. When the state engineer gave water permits to the county and
Verde Group, he canceled the remaining claim.
The Texas firm has purchased much of the land in the Santa Teresa
area in the past several months and said it plans to build several
cities spanning both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
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