WESTBROOK – Eight blasts per year at Pike Industries’ Spring Street quarry is the recommendation a committee formed to find a compromise between Pike and its neighbors will give to the City Council.

The number of blasts allowed was the most controversial aspect of a consent agreement that was finalized by the Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Committee Wednesday night, following a public hearing.

On Monday, the City Council will take up the issue, which it tabled in February in favor of forming the committee in order to find a compromise.

Following the public hearing, Pam Plumb, the committee’s facilitator, asked each member how many blasts he or she believed would be acceptable. Their recommendations ranged from zero blasts to 10 double blasts.

Plumb used the rank-choice voting method, in which members prioritize a list of options, in order to reach eight blasts as the middle ground.

Plumb is also the chairwoman of Portland’s Charter Commission, which recently has had debates about whether the rank-choice voting method would be an appropriate way to elect a mayor in the city.

Tony Buxton, Pike’s attorney, called the method “crazy” and said it was comparable to playing Russian roulette.

“This has nothing to do with science,” he said.

Buxton said limiting Pike to eight blasts per year “probably makes the quarry unprofitable.”

Earlier this month, Pike proposed to blast 20 times per year as a compromise. This week, Idexx Laboratories, a leading opponent of Pike’s blasting, said six to eight blasts per year would be an acceptable level or activity in order to allow the company to move forward with the construction of a $50 million corporate headquarters building. However, Idexx also wanted to put stricter limits on the intensity of the blasts than what is being recommended by the committee.

Jonathan Ayers, the chief executive officer of Idexx, said it would still need to review the details of the recommended agreement before deciding whether it would be acceptable for the construction of its headquarters.

John Koris, environmental manager for Pike Industries, stands inside the Spring Street quarry, where the company’s future operations have been the subject of a two-year-long debate between Pike and its neighbors. The Westbrook City Council, which tabled the issue in February in favor of trying find a compromise, will take it up again Monday after a city committee on Wednesday Pike be limited to eight blasts a year. (Staff photo by Leslie Bridgers)


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