Pike Industries is awaiting two decisions this week – one from the city and one from the courts – regarding how it will be able to use its land both now and in the future.

The Planning Board is scheduled Tuesday to make a recommendation to the City Council on whether to rezone the Five Star Industrial Park and surrounding land, including Pike’s property, from industrial to light manufacturing.

If the City Council ultimately decides to rezone the land, Pike will not be able to follow through with its plans to build an asphalt plant on its Spring Street site. Currently, Pike has an asphalt plant on its Main Street property, but the rock source there has been depleted, the company says.

There’s plenty of rock, however, at Pike’s Spring Street quarry, and the company wants to consolidate all of its Westbrook operations to that site, rather than have to truck rock from Spring Street to Main Street to be processed.

But Westbrook Works, a group of businesses and residents opposed to Pike’s proposed expansion on Spring Street, has claimed that the quarrying company never had the proper permits to operate on Spring Street at all. Earlier this year, the city’s Zoning Board ruled that Blue Rock, the company that used to run the quarry and was sold to Pike, did not meet certain conditions in its 1968 permit from the city, and thus Pike did not have the right to operate on Spring Street. Pike has appealed that decision to Superior Court.

Before a final court decision is made, Pike has asked to be able to continue quarrying and crushing rock on Spring Street. On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Humphrey heard Pike’s case, along with opposing arguments from the city and companies in Westbrook Works about why all of the company’s operations on Spring Street should be stalled until the court rules on the appeal.

At the court hearing, Pike’s attorney, Sigmund Schutz, of Preti Flaherty, said the company was simply “asking the court to stop the city from taking away our business … until our rights have been fully determined and heard.”

Schutz said Pike has paving projects planned that require the use of rock from its Spring Street quarry.

“It’s critical for us to remain in business,” Schutz said.

Natalie Burns, the city’s attorney, argued that Pike still has rock sources to draw from, including the quarry on Main Street. The fact that it will cost more to extract that rock doesn’t constitute irreparable harm done to the business.

In addition, Burns said, the court should consider the harm done to the public by allowing Pike to continue to blast rock on Spring Street, including the fact that nearby television station WPXT has to halt its own production every time Pike blasts.

“The public interest is fundamental,” she said. “I don’t think you can ignore it.”

Bill Plouffe, attorney for Idexx, the leading member of Westbrook Works, brought up the fact that Pike has ignored instructions given by the city’s code enforcement officer, who issued a cease and desist order in July. Though that order allowed Pike 30 days to remove materials from the quarry, the company has continued to do so past that deadline. The code enforcement officer has since issued a stop work order, as well, but Pike says it will continue trucking rock from the site.

Plouffe said it seemed Pike was treating the code enforcement officer as if he was “the code suggestion officer.”

“This is not the wild, wild West,” Plouffe said. “The people of the town rely on the enforcement of their ordinances.”

Schutz said Pike has tried to be deferential to the city by not blasting or crushing rock at Spring Street since the Zoning Board’s decision.

However, Schutz said, to suddenly strip a company of its rights – a company that the city has allowed to operate for decades – isn’t fair.

“This isn’t a situation where you can say, ‘We’re going to play ‘gotcha’ 40 years later,’” Schutz said.

Humphrey was expected to make a ruling within a couple of days of Tuesday’s hearing.


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