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Homebuilder Lennar Corp. has canceled an agreement to buy 14 acres of land owned by the Lakeville school district after residents, students and coaches rallied to stop the sale and keep the land natural.

The parcel, filled with woods and wetlands, is adjacent to Kenwood Trail Middle School and used by student athletes for practice, teachers for outdoor lessons and neighbors for nature walks. Lennar, a publicly traded company based in Miami that builds homes in 26 states, had planned to build single-family homes there.

Residents opposing the $1 million sale — the purchase agreement was signed in October — said the deal was discussed in several closed-session school board meetings last summer and fall that violated Minnesota's open-meeting law, because district officials did not disclose which parcel was being considered for sale.

Jon Ness, chair of the Save the Kenwood Trail Land group, said the group thinks the community's opposition to the sale may have played a role in the purchase agreement's termination. In an interview, he called it the "right decision."

"It's great to see a community come together around a common goal and ... that civic action can have an effect," Ness said. "That's really encouraging in today's day and age."

Dozens of residents showed up at a school board meeting and a Lakeville City Council work session to protest the sale — especially the fact that students and coaches who used the property were never told about it.

Angela Farrell, who has lived nearby for 45 years, called the community's effort "democracy at its best."

"We were all very disappointed when we were hearing that it was going to be sold," said Aiden Jakubic, a Lakeville South High School junior and cross-country runner. "There's a lot of memories I have of doing workouts there."

Stephanie Kass, spokeswoman for the Lakeville Area Schools, wrote in an email Friday: "In accordance with the agreed-upon terms, Lennar has terminated the purchase agreement for the property at Kenwood Trail Middle School. The school district will keep the community updated on any future developments or decisions related to the property."

The district's "194 Now" online newsletter shared the same information Thursday, saying Lennar had terminated the sale Feb. 27. Lennar spokeswoman Danielle Tocco confirmed the news, but neither the district nor Lennar offered further comment.

Lennar's purchase agreement with the district allowed for an inspection period ending April 1, and there were other steps in the process before homes could have gone up.

The land's designation in Lakeville's Comprehensive Plan would have needed changing, since it's deemed "public open space." Approving that step would have required a City Council supermajority.

Residents were also upset that the district did not have the land appraised. Several residents said they believed it was worth more than the $1 million the district would have sold it for.

Joey Miller, owner of Country Joe Homes, said the land might have sold for up to $1.5 million — and that he might have bid on it — if the district had pursued additional bids.

Kim Baker, a Lakeville school board member, confirmed in a December email that there had been no appraisal.

Grace Olson, a school district spokeswoman, said state law didn't require the district to get multiple bids. There's also nothing in state statute requiring an appraisal, she added.

While neither Lennar nor the district shared the reason for the termination, Ness said that, according to a Lennar document shared with the city, positioning homes around all the wetlands was problematic because of rules that protect them.

Though the community is happy, Ness said it's "still a concern" that the district may need to sell the land because it needs income. He wants to work with the district, the city and other groups to protect the land, along with another parcel near Kenwood Trail Middle School. It's not clear yet whether the district is open to that, he said.

"That's our olive branch, that we want to work with them," Ness said.