Scripps Facility Moved From Everglades to Palm Beach Co.

Wed March 15, 2006 - Southeast Edition

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (AP) Despite millions of dollars already spent on construction on the edge of the Everglades, commissioners voted Feb. 14 to move the planned Scripps Research Institute to northern Palm Beach County.

Construction on the proposed 2,000-acre biotechnology park at the original Mecca Farms site — where the county has spent more than $116 million — was halted last year after a federal judge ruled that key roads and support infrastructure couldn’t be built until a broad environmental impact analysis was completed.

The process could take up to two years.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club contending that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to do a comprehensive environmental study before granting a building permit to Scripps. The environmental groups say the area contains sensitive wetlands.

Scripps and the county will now re-negotiate a contract for the new site at Florida Atlantic University’s John D. MacArthur campus in Jupiter’s Abacoa community.

More than 100 Scripps scientists, lab assistants and other employees are already working in temporary labs there.

“It doesn’t have to go under any municipal scrutiny. It’s ready to go,” Jupiter Vice Mayor Todd Wodraska told commissioners.

Commissioners heard proposals from the cities of Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, and from officials with the Florida Research Park, an industrial site located in an unincorporated area west of Palm Beach Gardens.