A Catholic high school has been talked about in the Morgan Hill for nearly a decade, but the Diocese of San Jose has run into a series of setbacks getting its 40 acres of land—their preferred site of the future school—annexed into the city.

The latest of these hurdles is the denial of an annexation proposal Dec. 5 by the county commission charged with authorizing city boundary line extensions.

The school site sits outside of the city’s Urban Services Area, so it must be annexed in order to receive city services like water, sewer and public safety. The area the city attempted to annex sits North of Tennant Avenue and East of Condit Road.

Plans to annex the high school site were submitted by the City of Morgan Hill to the Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) for a second time, resulting in a Dec. 5 ruling at the committee meeting.

Committee staff had recommended in their report that LAFCO commissioners deny the city’s request, because staff believed the plans did not comply with committee standards. The annexation proposal failed in a 5-2 vote, with Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman and Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John L. Varela voting to approve the city’s request.

Morgan Hill and the LAFCO committee have a complicated history when it comes to the Catholic high school project and what is designated as the city’s “Southeast Quadrant.” Many of the commissioners at the Dec. 5 meeting brought up past decisions by the committee to deny the city’s annexation requests in the area that is mostly farmland.

LAFCO is an appointed body of citizens and elected officials throughout the county. The committee’s mission is, “Encouraging orderly boundaries, discouraging urban sprawl, and preserving agricultural and open space lands.”

While many of the commissioners saw the annexation request as the beginning of more outward growth in Morgan Hill, Wasserman thought the annexation would be the best way to preserve agricultural land.

Wasserman told the rest of the commissioners that if the request was not approved, the Diocese would sell the land and the parcels would be used for individuals or families who build what is often referred to as “ranchettes” or “McMansions.”

He thought mitigation that was planned for by the Diocese and the city—the two chief proponents of the Catholic high school proposal—would be the best way to guarantee the land was used for agricultural purposes and not development.

Full story at Morgan Hill Times.