November 19, 2013

Smiling Hill president pleads not guilty after disrupting quarry blast

Warren Knight, whose farm is near a quarry, is accused of refusing to leave an area near a planned blast by Pike Industries.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

The president of Smiling Hill Farm, who in September refused to move farther from the quarry in Westbrook where Pike Industries was scheduled to blast rock, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminal trespassing.

click image to enlarge

In this Sept. 30 ,2013, photo, Warren Knight talks about being arrested for allegedly blocking Pike Industries from blasting at its quarry next to his Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Warren Knight, 53, was scheduled to make his first appearance in Portland District Court on Tuesday, but instead, his attorney, Paul Boots of Portland, entered a plea for him by mail last month.

Knight was arrested Sept. 28 on Central Maine Power Co. property, between Pike Industries’ quarry on Spring Street and his family’s farm on County Road. He has said he was trying to experience the effect of the blast, but was told to move onto his own property because he was too close to the quarry.

Knight, who has been the spokesman for Smiling Hill Farm in a protracted legal battle with Pike Industries, has argued that the buffer between the quarry and the farm is insufficient.

Pike has created 100-foot vegetated buffers between the quarry and its neighbors. There is a 20-foot vegetated buffer between the quarry and the CMP property, next to the farm.

Pike was scheduled to blast rock on Sept. 27 – its first blast since 2011 – when Knight came out with his family to observe. Pike did not blast that day because of their proximity to the site, although it was unclear at the time whether Knight and his family were on their own property or on CMP’s land.

The next day, a surveyor determined the property line and concluded that Knight had not been on his own land. When Knight returned the next day to observe the blast, he was asked to leave again, but refused. That’s when he was arrested.

His next court date has not been scheduled.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: lbridgers@pressherald.comTwitter: @lesliebridgers
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