WESTBROOK — A committee that’s seeking a compromise to satisfy residents and businesses while allowing Pike Industries to remain in Westbrook examined ways to minimize the impact that blasting at Pike’s Spring Street quarry would have on neighbors.

The committee met for three hours Wednesday night with Mark Stebbins, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s mining coordinator.

They discussed creating a quarry commission to monitor Pike’s operations, talked about establishing a fund to help residents insulate their homes from vibration and noise, and even raised the idea of having Pike operate a quarry in another community.

“You will never be able to eliminate all the citizen complaints. People are still going to feel and hear the shots (explosions), but the question you have to answer is what is tolerable,” Stebbins told the committee.

The city has proposed rezoning the Five Star Industrial Park from industrial to light manufacturing uses. Such a zone change would effectively prevent Pike, a paving and construction company, from operating its quarry there.

Mayor Colleen Hilton has given the committee until May 3 to develop a compromise for the City Council to consider.

Earlier this month, two tenants of the industrial park, Artel and Idexx Laboratories Inc., indicated they will consider leaving Westbrook if the quarry operation is allowed to continue.

After listening to Stebbins describe blasting operations at other quarries around the state, committee members brainstormed ways to reduce the impact on Westbrook property owners.

Stebbins said the state cannot regulate the number of times that a company blasts in a year.

Large companies like Pike can do as many as 20 blasting operations a year. Dragon Cement in Thomaston, which operates the state’s largest quarry, conducts 120 blasting operations a year.

Committee members said they liked the idea of requiring Pike Industries to build berms that could muffle the sound from blasts. They also discussed hiring an engineering consultant who could monitor blasts on behalf of the city.

John Koris, an environmental engineer for Pike, said all of the suggestions from the committee seemed reasonable.

However, Koris and Dennis Bailey, a Pike spokesman, said an idea from City Administrator Jerre Bryant came as a bit of a surprise.

Bryant suggested that the city and Pike explore a land swap in which Pike’s quarry would be in another community.

“A land swap might work due to the quarry’s urban location,” Bryant said.

Bailey said a land swap is unlikely because the rock in the Spring Street quarry is similar in quality to the rock in Pike’s quarry on Main Street in Westbrook.

The committee did not delve into the environmental impact that quarry blasting might have on surrounding homes.

Earlier this month, residents raised concerns that blasting might cause contaminants from the former Unitrode property at 2 Eisenhower Drive to enter the Stroudwater River, and ultimately Casco Bay.

Committee members said they will discuss the environmental impact issue on March 31.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]