The Scripps Research Institute's plans to open a new center in Florida have hit a snag as environmental organizations threaten to sue to block the project and local government leaders have asked the institute to investigate less controversial locations.

Scripps trustees will decide September 13 whether to build a second research lab on a former citrus grove surrounded by environmentally sensitive land or choose one of two other Palm Beach County alternates favored by environmental groups. The lab will be the heart of what developers and county officials call a "biotech village," comprising labs, offices, housing, and recreation facilities. The county's portion is 1920 acres, and an investor, Charles Vavrus, has sold 1700 adjacent acres for development. Vavrus may sell more land, and the state and county have not said how many acres the village will ultimately incorporate.

A farmer whose land abuts the planned research site, known as Mecca...

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