Humane Society’s move catches firm in crossfire

Origen’s presence barred by effort to block PHS relocation

BURLINGAME — In an effort to block the Peninsula Humane Society from relocating to a facility on Rollins Road, a handful of businesses have inadvertently made it so an existing business on the site no longer complies with area guidelines.

The Peninsula Humane Society is suing those property owners, including Aerobay Office Center, Rilco Edwards and Albert Guibara, for changing local conditions, covenants and restrictions for the office park at the corner of Rollins Road and Edwards Court, according to PHS/SPCA Director Ken White.

“We believe they illegally amended the CCNRs,” White said. “If those are upheld, not only could the PHS not build its new facility, but the landlord would have to evict the existing tenant.”

The CCNRs were changed approximately three months ago to forbid any business from keeping animals on-site, according to Herman Christensen, owner of Aerobay.

“We feel it’s not a suitable place for the Humane Society,” Christensen said. “The hope for the Rollins Road corridor is that it would be upgraded to be more like an office park rather than miscellaneoususes.” He said he was not aware that Origen was keeping animals on the property.

Origen Therapeutics, which operates a biotechnology center at 1450 Rollins Road — where PHS hopes to relocate — performs experiments on chickens and keeps a number of animals in a facility on the site, according to Origen President Robert Kay. His neighbors have not approached him about the change in guidelines, Kay said.

Christensen, Edwards and Guibara sued the city of Burlingame in August, alleging that the city broke the law when it amended regional zoning to allow PHS’ project to move forward without also amending the area’s specific plan, according to Christensen.

Burlingame has since rejected that claim and is amassing documentation regarding the facility’s planning process, according to Burlingame City Attorney Larry Anderson.

Meanwhile, Burlingame is accepting public comment through Oct. 20 on an environmental review of the PHS relocation plan, according to Planning Director Meg Monroe. That review found that the Humane Society’s new site would not pose any unavoidable problems, such as undue traffic, noise or odor, as long as it’s built as proposed, Monroe said.

The Humane Society leases land on Airport Boulevard from the county, but that lease runs out June 30, 2008. White expects to ask the county for a three-year extension but said it’s most practical to find a new home in the next two years.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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