WESTBROOK – The City Council voted Wednesday night to approve a revised consent agreement that would allow Pike Industries to operate its rock quarry in the Five Star Industrial Park.
The council voted 4-2 to approve the agreement between Pike, Idexx Laboratories, two neighboring businesses and nearby residents. Councilors Victor Chau and John O’Hara cast the dissenting votes. Councilor Paul Emery did not attend the meeting.
The agreement needs final approval from Justice Thomas Humphrey, who is presiding over a civil case involving Pike and the city of Westbrook. Pike sued the city, claiming it should be allowed to mine its quarry off Spring Street because city officials allowed it for years. The trial is set to begin on Monday.
City Solicitor Bill Dale and the lawyers representing the businesses will be in Cumberland County Superior Court at 9 a.m. today to ask Humphrey to approve the agreement. If Humphrey approves, Pike has agreed to drop its lawsuit.
Pike also would drop its lawsuit challenging the city’s adoption earlier this year of “light manufacturing” zoning for the Five Star Industrial Park, which would prohibit quarrying.
At the start of Wednesday’s public hearing at Westbrook Middle School, Mayor Colleen Hilton urged councilors to approve the agreement.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Hilton said after the vote. “I’m pleased that it passed by the council. I’m hopeful that the judge will find it favorable and that we can move on as a community.”
On Aug. 30, the council voted to table its decision on a consent agreement reached by city officials, Pike and Idexx. Before the vote, residents said they hadn’t been included in the process that produced the agreement.
City officials then held further negotiations with all of the parties to resolve some concerns for residents.
The agreement approved Wednesday 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. It also would prevent Pike from operating an asphalt or concrete plant at its maintenance facility at 750 Spring St.
Pike resolved several concerns expressed by residents, such as paying for two new traffic lanes on County Road to the quarry on Spring Street, to help traffic flow. Pike also agreed to meet with residents in the Birdland neighborhood who are interested in selling their homes.
“I am thrilled that Westbrook has done such a spectacular job of dealing with a 40-year-old problem,” said Tony Buxton, a lawyer representing Pike. “I am optimistic that the court will accept the agreement.”
About 70 people attended Wednesday’s special council meeting. Some residents felt the agreement was rushed and didn’t resolve their concerns.
Mike Daley, a strong opponent of Pike, objected to the revised agreement. He says Pike should have agreed to pay the property taxes for residents who are affected by Pike’s quarrying.
“I don’t care for it,” Daley said. “It does nothing to help me as a taxpayer. It gives me two options: live with it or move.”
Gary Swanson of Oriole Street walked out of Wednesday morning’s negotiation session with city officials and business leaders. Swanson said that if the council approved the agreement, the residents would have two options: file a class-action lawsuit against the city, or get bought out by Pike.
“There are things I think still need to be looked at,” Swanson said at the hearing. “I’m a little leery of the buyout.”
Charles Anderson of Doyle Street strongly supported the agreement.
“Pike has been extraordinary regarding the effort toward concessions and trying to work out a compromise,” Anderson said. “Most other parties haven’t given any concessions whatsoever. Anything that can keep both businesses in Westbrook is worthwhile to pursue.”
Idexx and other high-tech businesses that operate near Pike in the industrial park have been trying for months to limit or eliminate blasting in the quarry.
Dick Daigle, facilities manager for Idexx, told the council Wednesday night that he approves of the revised agreement.
Warren Knight, whose family owns nearby Smiling Hill Farm, told the council that he would not support the agreement.
He raised concerns about the buffer that Pike said it would build with vegetation on the 20 feet of his property closest to Pike.
“I am in shock that the city would expect for me to provide 20 feet of land on my own property to provide a buffer for that use,” Knight said before the vote. “I cannot support this. But we are very apprehensive about a court proceeding. It is a risk.”
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: