— By

Staff Writer

Westbrook officials will begin efforts today to broker a compromise between Pike Industries and the residents and businesses opposed to the company’s quarry operation in the Five Star Industrial Park on Spring Street.

Mayor Colleen Hilton has formed a committee that will meet with businesses and residents to identify concerns about Pike’s operation and the growth and management of the park.

The first meeting, open to the public, will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. today at City Hall.

Hilton will be chairwoman of the Spring Street Quarry Steering Committee, which includes five other city officials and residents of nearby neighborhoods.

”I hope that we can come to some kind of consensus as to how everyone can operate on that side of town and all live within earshot of each other,” said Councilor John O’Hara, who will serve on the panel. ”The question is how we can make every business that is valuable to our taxpayers stay in place and continue to prosper.”

The panel will tackle a dispute that has alienated two of the city’s largest taxpayers: Pike Industries, a paving and construction company, and Idexx Laboratories, a biotechnology company.

Idexx has been a leading opponent of Pike’s plan to move its operations from a depleted quarry on Main Street to its quarry in the industrial park on Spring Street. The city has proposed rezoning the park from industrial to light manufacturing uses, which would effectively shut down the quarry.

But after a four-hour public hearing Feb. 1, the City Council decided to table the matter and pursue an agreement that allows Pike to keep operating at Spring Street while addressing concerns about noise and other impacts.

The City Council will decide on March 1 whether to hire Pamela Plumb, a professional mediator, to help resolve the dispute. Plumb is a former city councilor and mayor of Portland. She owns Pamela Plumb & Associates and works with nonprofit groups, businesses and municipalities.

”She has a great deal of experience in dealing with a variety of public policy issues,” said Jerre Bryant, Westbrook’s city administrator. ”She was on the top of everyone’s list.”

City officials plan to meet with Pike and Idexx next week, and with Westbrook Works, a group that supports the rezoning, in March.

Bryant said those meetings will be closed to the public.

”I think it will be incredibly challenging, but it’s an issue that should be decided locally through dialogue,” Bryant said. ”There’s a lot of varied interests that deserve and will have a say in this process.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

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