Sprawling Scripps Development in Florida Up in Air After Court Ruling
December 8, 2005
After a series of court rulings that sided with environmentalists concerned about the threat of unchecked development on Florida’s last wild areas, Scripps Research Institute has decided to choose a different location for its huge development project. Originally slated to be built on a remote rural orange grove next to the Loxahatchee River and an ancient cypress river swamp, Scripps has gone back to the drawing board and selected a more urban location in Abacoa that already includes homes, shops, and other businesses. The decision is a huge victory for Floridians and a model for smart development decisions.
November 1, 2005
With the hopes of attracting Scripps Research Institute to the region, Palm Beach County and the state of Florida agreed to finance a huge development project that includes research space and over 2000 new homes. Unfortunately, the site chosen for the sprawling development is Mecca Farms, a 2000-acre orange grove located in an extremely remote, rural area in the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River and next to an ancient cypress river swamp. Instead of conducting environmental reviews of the project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers instead attempted an end run around the law by dividing the development into smaller, unrelated projects that would not be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as the entire project as a whole. After a widespread local grassroots campaign seeking to move the development to a less sensitive site and objecting to the lack of a thorough environmental review, Sierra Club joined with coalition partners to file a legal challenge to the development. In September 2005, a judge ruled in our favor and held that the Corps cannot break the project into smaller pieces simply to speed up the approval process. The judge also ruled that the Corps must immediately conduct an environmental review before continuing with the proposed project. Then, in early November, the judge ordered the county to stop work on related water and sewer lines, road construction, and electricity infrastructure until after the environmental review is completed. Local activists are hopeful that the rulings will encourage the county and the state to go back to the drawing board and find a more appropriate and environmentally sound site for the development.
Details and Documents:
Scripps gives up on Mecca Farms
December 8, 2005, by Associated Press, St. Petersburg Times
Judge rules Scripps may continue building on Mecca site, but with restrictions
November 11, 2005, by Josh Hafenbrack and Neil Santaniello, Sun Sentinel
Scripps ruling fuels more limbo
November 11, 2005, by Stacey Singer, Deana Poole, and Hector Florin, Palm Beach Post
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.