Maine’s highest court on Thursday approved an agreement regulating Pike Industries’ Westbrook quarry, putting an end to a years-long appeals process pursued by neighboring Smiling Hill Farm.

But the matter isn’t over yet for the farm, which now plans to turn to the city to ask for a bigger buffer between its land and the quarry.

Pike, however, doesn’t see that happening.

“This case has gone on longer than two gestation periods for a mother elephant and longer than WWII. The good news is that the battle is over,” said Tony Buxton of Preti Flaherty, the law firm representing Pike.

The agreement, called a consent decree, was originally reached in 2010 among Pike, the city of Westbrook and Idexx Laboratories, another neighbor that had taken issue with Pike’s plans to expand its quarrying operations on Spring Street.

The agreement put restrictions, such as noise and vibration limits, on Pike’s activity, but it didn’t satisfy Smiling Hill Farm, which has argued that the buffer between its property line and the active part of Pike’s quarry is significantly smaller than it is for other neighbors.

Sigmund Schutz, another attorney for Pike, said there is already “as much buffering as you can put on that property without basically forcing the quarry to close.”

The farm’s president, Warren Knight, said the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s decision Thursday enables the city to require a larger buffer, through the Zoning Board of Appeals, the City Council or a citywide referendum.

“It was exactly what we were looking for,” he said, despite the fact that Smiling Hill’s appeal was denied.

Knight pointed to the part of the decision that says the agreement essentially gives Pike grandfathered rights to operate a quarry on the Spring Street site. But if the city changes its rules for quarrying – possibly by requiring a 100-foot buffer from other properties – Pike would have to abide by them, he said.

Schutz disagreed, giving the example that if the city decided to make farming illegal, Smiling Hill could continue to operate as a grandfathered business.

Buxton said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were “skirmishes brought by Warren Knight from time to time … but the legal battle has been decided.”

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said that in recent years, several businesses have relocated to and expanded within the neighborhood surrounding the quarry. They include Idexx, which on Friday will celebrate the completion of a $35 million facility that it once threatened to build elsewhere because of Pike’s plans for the quarry.

“This would appear to confirm that the Spring Street quarry operations are compatible with their neighboring businesses,” Bryant said.

He said he hopes the ruling Thursday will “give final closure on this matter.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: @lesliebridgers

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