WESTBROOK- A Cumberland County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a consent agreement between Pike Industries and the city of Westbrook governing operations at a controversial quarry the company runs on Spring Street.

In an Aug. 9 ruling, Judge Thomas Humphrey granted preliminary approval to the consent agreement, with the condition that the city enact an amendment to its zoning ordinance spelling out performance standards for Pike.

Attorneys for Pike and the city have argued that a finding by the Maine Supreme Court already granted preliminary approval to the agreement, making no further discussion necessary. Humphrey agreed, writing in his decision, “In light of the Law Court’s decision, this court concludes that Pike is correct, and that no further analysis of the (agreement) itself is necessary.”

But Pike opponents have not given up.

Pike has been at odds with neighbors to its quarry ever since the company began stepping up operations there, including seeking permission to conduct production blasting. The problem came to a head in 2009, when Idexx Laboratories, which also abuts the quarry property, threatened to cancel its plans to build a $50 million corporate headquarters on its own property.

That led to attorneys from Pike and Idexx, with the city acting as mediator, sitting down to work out an agreement through which the city would govern Pike’s operations at the quarry.

While the agreement essentially ended the dispute between Pike and Idexx, other neighbors, including Artel, a manufacturer of sensitive fluid-measuring equipment, Smiling Hill Farm and residents of the nearby Birdland neighborhood, argue that their concerns have still not been addressed.

Those neighbors have collectively been fighting the city and Pike in court ever since. The most recent argument revolves around whether the consent decree oversteps the authority of local officials to challenge Pike if there is a dispute. The court acknowledged that some provisions of the agreement that set standards for Pike’s work in the quarry are not enforceable, recommending that the city enact an amendment to existing zoning law to compensate. In the Aug. 9 hearing, Humphrey made that recommendation an order, requiring the city to report back to the court within 90 days.

Sigmund Schutz, an attorney representing Pike, said he expects full compliance with the requirements, and that the court will then make its approval permanent.

“We’re in the middle of the final chapter of this book,” Schutz said.

But Warren Knight, a member of the family that owns Smiling Hill Farm, said the ruling does not mean he or other objectors to the agreement are giving up. There are, he said, still other objections to Pike pending in court, and he expects to pursue them.

“That is our right, and we will continue to do so,” he said.

If it weren’t for this agreement, he said, city regulations would not allow Pike to run its quarry the way it wants to.

“It’s illegal,” he said. “What (Pike is) doing is illegal.”

David Bertoni, a Lewiston attorney representing Artel, said this week that getting the amendment to the zoning ordinance written and approved is not a done deal yet, nor is the final stage of approval for the agreement in superior court.

But in the end, Bertoni said, the real issue was trying to put a stop to what he called “back-room dealings” that led to the agreement being forged in the first place.

“What Artel really wanted was to go through the (public) process,” he said.

Bertoni said his client does have concerns about the quarry’s operations, but even more concerns about making sure the approval process happens in the public eye.

“We’re going to be paying very close attention to the process,” he said.


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