WESTBROOK – Gary Swanson was sitting at the kitchen table in his home on Oriole Street around 1:30 p.m. Friday when a rumble sounded in the distance and the floor vibrated under his feet.

“That was a good one,” he said. “On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it a seven or eight.”

At Artel Inc. on Bradley Drive, Diana Burton was sitting at her computer when the walls shook.

“It sounded like a bomb,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Colleen Hilton was driving on Spring Street with the windows down.

“I didn’t hear a thing,” she said.

Such mixed reactions came as Pike Industries detonated explosives in its quarry off Spring Street. Friday’s blast was the first of its kind since 2008, when nearby Idexx Laboratories first took issue with Pike’s operating there.

Idexx, which manufactures veterinary equipment, said heavy industry was incompatible with its image. The company threatened to build its multimillion-headquarters elsewhere if the city allowed Pike to continue blasting.

Nearly four years after the high-profile battle began, Idexx is ready to start construction in the spring, and Pike has resumed its quarrying operation.

“It means a lot to us,” said John Koris, Pike’s environmental manager. “It’s been a long road.”

What started as a clash between Pike and Idexx turned into a debate that drew in teams of lawyers, public relations consultants, other neighboring businesses and nearby residents, including Swanson.

“It was tooth and nail,” he said Friday.

The conflict went to Westbrook’s code enforcement officer, Zoning Board, Planning Board and City Council. Appeals were made and lawsuits were filed. Eventually, a court-approved consent agreement allowed Pike to continue operating, with restrictions.

Among the requirements for Pike were site improvements, including berms and a new access road, meant to buffer the property from its neighbors.

Dick Daigle, facilities manager for Idexx, said he didn’t notice the blast Friday from his office, and didn’t hear about anyone who did.

Koris said Friday’s blast produced 15,000 tons of loose rock for construction projects. The company hopes to produce 41,000 tons more by the end of this year, with two or three blasts next week. The agreement limits Pike to eight blasts per calendar year.

Although Idexx is satisfied with the agreement, other neighbors still have concerns.

Swanson said he worries about cracks in his home’s foundation.

Artel, which measures precise amounts of liquid, will shut down its laboratories on days when there are blasts. That company, along with nearby Smiling Hill Farm, is still pursuing an appeal of the consent agreement.

“Whether or not they blast today, the whole thing’s not over,” Swanson said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]