WESTBROOK – Pike Industries set off its first blast Thursday for the construction of an access road at its Spring Street quarry, despite a last-minute demand from neighboring businesses that the city halt the activity.
A letter from Artel Inc. was hand-delivered Thursday morning to Westbrook Code Enforcement Officer Rick Gouzie asking him not to allow the scheduled blasting to proceed. Smiling Hill Farm and television stations WPXT/WPME also sent letters to Gouzie opposing the blasting.
Gouzie issued a permit to Pike on Tuesday allowing 10 blasts from then through June 8 for the purpose of building the access road. He said the second blast is scheduled for 1 p.m. today.
According to a consent agreement approved by a judge in November, Pike can blast up to 10 times before June 9 to build the access road to the quarry, which is a requirement under the agreement. Artel, Smiling Hill Farm and nearby residents are appealing that agreement in Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
In the letter from Artel, facilities manager Jack Wood contended that Pike should not be allowed to blast until the appeal is decided. Artel manufactures precision instruments for measuring liquids.
Pike’s attorney, Tony Buxton of Preti Flaherty, said Maine’s Supreme Court denied Artel’s request for a stay to delay blasting until the appeal is decided.
Wood also argued that Pike isn’t complying with the terms of the consent agreement, which required the quarrying company to meet with Artel before blasting. Wood acknowledged that Pike has contacted Artel to set up a meeting.
Buxton said Pike delivered a letter to Artel on April 26 asking to set up a meeting and has repeatedly called the company since then. The first response Pike received was an email Tuesday from Wood saying Artel would be in touch about arranging a meeting, Buxton said.
Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Gouzie reviewed the consent agreement and the city’s blasting ordinance before issuing the permit to Pike. Bryant said that in light of Artel’s complaint Thursday, he asked the city’s land use attorney, Natalie Burns, to review Pike’s plan to build the access road and Gouzie’s decision to issue a blasting permit.
Burns determined that Pike had met all relevant requirements and Gouzie properly issued the permit, Bryant wrote in an email Thursday afternoon.
Businesses and residents near the Spring Street quarry have been fighting for years to prevent Pike from blasting rock at the site. The consent agreement reached by the city, Pike and Idexx Laboratories — the first nearby business to publicly oppose Pike’s quarrying plans — allows Pike to blast rock on Spring Street eight times per year.
If Pike doesn’t finish the blasting needed to build the access road by June 9, each subsequent blast for the road will count toward the eight blasts allowed each year, according to the agreement.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at