The controversy surrounding a drug-testing laboratory's planned move into Chandler will likely cost millions in legal fees and campaign costs.

Covance, a global contract lab company, and one of its adversaries, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, are positioned for a costly showdown as the company seeks a zoning change to build a facility in south Chandler.

Both have hired top-notch law firms, and both are prepared to sway not only the city in regards to the zoning change but the public's perception of the company, which uses animals for drug and chemical testing.

Opponents have promised to launch a referendum drive if the City Council approves Covance's rezoning request.

Both sides have acknowledged the council's approval likely will go to voters because only about 1,300 signatures are required to force a referendum.

Based on similar campaigns he's been involved in, Scottsdale political consultant Jason Rose said he's confident Covance consultants would not have budgeted less than $300,000 to $400,000 for a public
relations fight.

"And probably something in the range of $500,000 to $750,000 with the potential for $1 million-plus," he said.

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