Covance triumphant in animal lab battle

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Covance Construction

Covance has emerged triumphant in the latest episode of a
long-lasting saga over a new US animal testing lab that it is
building in Chandler, Arizona.

At the request of the plaintiffs, a judge has this week thrown out a lawsuit that the contract research organisation (CRO) has been embroiled in mid last year after a bid was launched to stunt its lab development plans.

The plaintiffs were seven local residents who live within a mile of the construction site and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) - one of the groups that have been campaigning to shoo Covance away from Chandler since those plans were made public over two years ago.

The decision will have left Covance breathing a sigh of relief over the controversial project, the future of which had been somewhat in limbo.

The company broke ground on the 300,000-square-foot site in June last year but the lawsuit jeopardised the smooth continuation of the site construction as the lawsuit asked the court to void the building permit and the zoning for the facility.

This week a judge dismissed the final part of a five-part suit, the other four aspects had been dismissed in late January.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Chandler city officials violated the Arizona Open Meeting Act and city ordinances in allowing Covance to build in the Chandler Airpark.

The lawsuit also alleged that city officials took part in non-public meetings about Covance in which they discussed the company's plan to build its new facility on the rezoned Airpark property instead of the initial building site.

According to the lawsuit, the city of Chandler also allegedly failed to give a proper notice of the planning and zoning commission public hearing held on 19 July 2006, and the city council's introduction and final hearings, which took place on 27 July and 10 August the same year.

Furthermore, it alleged that the approval of the building permit by the city violated its own zoning ordinance because it "appears that a huge percentage of Covance's facility will be devoted to the operation of a kennel/veterinarian clinic".

Originally the legal case was brought against Chandler City although Covance subsequently joined the battle to form a united front with the city.

The dismissal of the last part of the lawsuit, which pertained to the non-public meetings, now closes the door on the saga for Covance and opens the door for the firm to begin operating the 300,000-square-foot laboratory early next year.

Meanwhile, the battle may have been won but it seems the war is not over.

PCRM is still adamant that the Chandler City Council violated the open meeting law and has requested that the state Attorney General's Office reopen its investigation into the matter.

An earlier inquiry into the issue by the office was planned but halted when PCRM decided to file the lawsuit.

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