WESTBROOK — A day after the City Council tabled its decision on a consent agreement involving Pike Industries and Idexx Laboratories, city officials scrambled to bring the various parties together to find a resolution.

In just 12 days, lawyers representing Pike and the city are scheduled to square off in a civil trial. Justice Thomas Humphrey is expected to rule on Pike’s claim that it should be allowed to mine its quarry off Spring Street because the city has allowed it for years.

More than 125 people packed Monday night’s public hearing at Westbrook High School as the council considered a proposed consent agreement that would establish guidelines for Pike’s quarry in the Five Star Industrial Park.

The agreement would limit Pike to eight blasts a year, limit the intensity of the explosions and restrict truck traffic to an average of 45 vehicles a day. Pike also would build larger berms, fences and other buffers to reduce the visibility of the quarry.

After more than two hours of testimony, the council voted 7-0 to defer its decision on the agreement reached last month by Pike, Idexx and city officials.

Mayor Colleen Hilton expressed disappointment Tuesday and vowed to continue working with the interested parties to find a resolution. She said the effort will likely include Pike’s neighbors, Artel and Smiling Hill Farm, along with a couple of residents from the nearby neighborhood.

“There’s a handful of people who don’t (like) the agreement and I appreciate how difficult this is for them,” Hilton said.

“I honestly believe that the performance standards in place are the strictest in Maine and perhaps New England. I don’t know how we could get any better. If we roll the dice and let the courts decide, it could be much worse for the residents.”

Bill Dale, the city’s attorney, filed a motion in court before the hearing to postpone the trial. Artel and Smiling Hill Farm, intervenors in Pike’s lawsuit, filed a court motion opposing the continuance.

At Monday’s hearing, Dale said the judge may or may not agree to postpone the trial.

“My inclination is that he won’t,” he said.

“The risk is that he will say that we’ve all been at it for six months, and I know that nothing breeds settlement like firm trial dates. That’s why we’ve got one.”

Tony Buxton, the lawyer representing Pike, said, “As of right now, we are preparing to go to trial on Sept. 13.”

Kirby Pilcher, owner of Artel, which makes precision measuring instruments in the industrial park, has agreed to participate in further negotiations.

He says he will have to move his business if Pike is allowed to blast.

Dick Daigle, facilities manager for Idexx, said the company would participate in continued negotiations with the city. “The agreement was good, but we can do better,” he said.

Some councilors also believe the proposed consent agreement is a good start but needs more work before it is approved.

Councilors Victor Chau and Paul Emery said Monday that they would not support the agreement.

“The document is flawed,” Chau said on Tuesday. “I couldn’t approve this the way it was written. If it passed, we wouldn’t have ordinance control for the next 100 years.”

The council has not scheduled a date to reconsider the consent agreement.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]