LAWSUITS MAY HOLD UP CONSTRUCTION OF SCRIPPS INSTITUTE-Andrew Stelzer

11/29/04

Plans to build the Scripps biotechnology institute in Palm beach county are still on track according the government officials, but lawsuits piling up make it seem like it may be a matter of years, not weeks before construction begins. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer reports.

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All the concerned parties say they want the Scripps institute in Florida, but just not in the middle of a former orange grove that is designated for low-density land use.

ACT “Were very supportive of Scripps coming to palm beach..but WE HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE SITE.. Vivian Young is with 1000 friends of Florida

ACT …ITS IN THE HEADWATERS OF THE RIVER., also everglades, and other environmental concerns.

1000 friends filed 2 suits last week, and will file another one in December, to prevent the construction of the institute, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006.

ACT “The basic premise of the one suit..conflict of interest..the other one is a violation of the comprehensive plan..�

The plans call for development of almost 2000 acres of land, which is now home to birds and other wildlife; a neighboring area of wetlands would also have to be developed to build roads to access Scripps. But a coalition of groups including the Florida wildlife federation and eth Palm Beach county environmental coalition have been fighting the development of what they say are environmentally sensitive lands; in addition to the new suits, the environmental council also filed a different lawsuit in August. Governor Jeb Bush has called the lawsuits “legal Terrorism�, and is advocating for construction to begin as planned, but Young says the governors’ refusal to acknowledge the real environmental issues could hurt the country financially.

ACT “Were talking about 100 million risk the governors wants to take….there’s a whole series of contract between the county and state, he wants to go ahead…the unfortunate thing is a ruling last year, tear down complex, were on strong legal grounds, wait or look at other sites,..so why did the commission approve it? Well it goes back to the contract last year..Scripps, feds, Palm Beach County and others…they are boxed in and don’t want to be sued..�

Several Palm Beach county commissioners and the Scripps project manager did not return WMNFs calls, but we did speak to Mary McGuinness mass, who works with the Palm Beach county Business development board.

ACT “Our initial job is to present properties to companies…

ACT ’Say this does get drawn out, when do you advise the county to o elsewhere? We don’t do that, they saw four other sites and said no, they wanted Mecca

Vivian Young with 1000 friends of Florida says a different site seems like the logical solution, and she doesn’t understand why the county and state government aren’t abiding by state law.

ACT ‘We feel that this undermines the planning process statewide as well, it violates, we’ve done everything in our power, we have no other alternative…�

Ground breaking for Scripps is still scheduled to begin in early January, although the contract is written to allow for delays that may be incurred by environmentally related lawsuits or the effects of hurricanes.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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