A judge has approved an agreement that would allow Pike Industries to mine its rock quarry in Westbrook’s Five Star Industrial Park, with a number of conditions.
Maine Business Court Justice Thomas Humphrey issued his opinion Monday afternoon.
Humphrey’s decision could end a dispute involving the city of Westbrook, Pike Industries and Idexx Laboratories that began a couple of years ago.
“As a practical matter, one would think this (consent order) is the end of the matter,” said William Dale, Westbrook’s attorney.
Though the ruling would restrict how Pike can operate its quarry off Spring Street, two disgruntled neighbors, Smiling Hill Farm and Artel, a biopharmaceutical company in the industrial park, could still appeal Humphrey’s ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
There is also a separate lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Birdland Neighborhood Alliance, which seeks to invalidate the agreement.
The city has sought to have that lawsuit dismissed. The case is pending in Cumberland County Superior Court.
Pike sued Westbrook last year after the city’s zoning board ruled that the company didn’t have the right to operate its quarry.
Idexx and other tenants of the industrial park opposed the quarry, saying its blasting was disruptive and incompatible with high-tech operations like its own.
But Idexx dropped its opposition after city officials and Pike came to an agreement that would allow the quarry to operate with restrictions.
“This agreement will allow Pike to mine the quarry, but it will be the most tightly regulated quarry in New England,” said Tony Buxton, an attorney for Pike Industries. “Pike believes it can operate under these standards.”
Buxton said the consent order requires Pike to meet more than 40 performance standards. Those standards, according to the court order, include construction of a vegetative buffer and fence to prevent dust from crossing Pike’s property line.
Also, truck traffic must be limited to an average of 45 departures per day, blasting must occur only between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays, and Pike may conduct only eight production blasts a year.
Pike also must limit vibrations from blasts with the use of electronic detonators and laser profiling. It also must give two weeks’ advance warning of any upcoming blast to property owners within a half-mile of the quarry.
“It’s a great victory for the citizens of Westbrook and for the parties who worked to craft a compromise,” Buxton said. “This effectively ends the dispute between Pike, the city and Idexx.”
However, Humphrey’s decision did not satisfy everyone, leaving open the possibility of a legal challenge.
David Silk, the attorney representing Warren Knight and his Smiling Hill Farm, said Monday night, “I’m sure the farm will be disappointed.”
Silk said Knight is concerned about the impact that blasting would have on his dairy cows.
Artel, which manufactures precision measuring instruments, contends that blasting would interfere with its manufacturing process and force it to move.
Silk said his client believes that Pike Industries’ mining request should have been dealt with through Westbrook’s contract zoning process.
Silk and David Lourie, the attorney for the Birdland Neighborhood Alliance, a residents group, contend that a judge lacks the authority to enact zoning, which they say is a legislative power.
“I was hired by the neighbors because they felt their interests were not being protected by the city,” Lourie said.
He said his clients’ case will be heard by a different judge.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be reached at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]