A judge has agreed with Westbrook’s Zoning Board of Appeals that Pike Industries’ quarrying operation in the Five Star Industrial Park is not exempt from zoning changes.

If Justice Thomas E. Humphrey had disagreed, the ruling would have buttressed Pike’s argument that it can continue to quarry at the site even if the city decides to rezone it for light industry — which would bar most quarrying.

The city’s Planning Board has endorsed the rezoning, which now must be approved or rejected by the City Council.

The court ruling, dated Monday, has limited practical impact. Humphrey still must rule on Pike’s claim that the quarrying is an ongoing use because the city has allowed it to continue and even issued permits allowing blasting and construction at the site.

A decision on that aspect of the appeal isn’t expected until later this year.

Two years ago, Pike sought to expand its quarrying operation at the site, setting off a dispute with nearby Idexx Laboratories.

The zoning board ruled that Pike did not have “grandfathered” rights, clearing the way for the city to rezone the area if it wished. Pike appealed the board’s ruling.

A group that formed to oppose Pike’s operations applauded Monday’s decision.

“This is a big loss for Pike, its attorneys and its PR man,” said George Rodrigues, chairman of WestbrookWorks. “Heavy industrial blasting is simply incompatible with the neighborhood in which Pike has proposed to do this, and finally a judge has affirmed what residents and businesses have been saying all along.”

Pike’s lawyer said the ruling largely represents the court’s “traditional deference to an administrative agency.”

Tony Buxton noted that Blue Rock Industries and later Pike “have been operating the quarry with the city’s full knowledge and acquiescence since 1968,” and never faced any objection.

In fact, Buxton said, the city gave Blue Rock and Pike permits to build an office, a platform and scales at the quarry, and issued blasting permits.

Buxton said the company will continue to work with a city committee that is seeking a compromise to allow Pike to continue operating the quarry and limit its impact on neighboring businesses, including Idexx.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]