Chandler City Councilman Matt Orlando let Covance know Thursday he’s not pleased with the way the drug-testing company is communicating with the community.
Orlando criticized the company for requiring people attending neighborhood meetings held last week to sign an agreement in which attendees promised not to protest or demonstrate.
“We’ve had Intel, we’ve had Motorola,” Orlando said at Thursday night’s council meeting. “I can go on and on and on. And not one time in those controversial issues would those companies ask citizens of this community to sign a pledge.”
Covance, a global contract laboratory company headquartered in Princeton, N.J., has announced plans to build a $125 million facility at Queen Creek and Gilbert roads in Chandler. The company conducts laboratory testing for other companies. Some of that testing involves laboratory animals.
Covance spokeswoman Camilla Strongin said Friday the move was a precaution to ensure everyone’s safety, claiming animalrights activists have a reputation for disruptive behavior.
“Because of the nature of the opposition, we wanted people to be able to come and come into a nonthreatening environment and not be faced with protests or signs or posters or that type of thing,” she said.
To Strongin, the company’s policies during the Dec. 11-12 meetings are little different than the signs posted outside the City Council’s chambers prohibiting signs and placards. The signs are posted for council meetings when Covance is expected to be discussed.
Removing disorderly people is one thing, Orlando said, but, “I would hope we would have a little more dialogue and not try to intimidate with some sort of written response.”
Orlando also criticized the company’s plans for a citizen advisory panel expected to be made up of community members. He voiced concern about the company’s plans not to include residents who oppose Covance.
The panel is expected to be formed and begin meeting in early January, Strongin said.
The panel will have members with diverse perspectives and backgrounds, but none who are against animal testing, she said.
“That would be counterproductive to the mission,” she said.