Friday, October 16, 2009

Pike, IDEXX Unable to Reach Compromise

Pike Industries yesterday offered concessions to IDEXX Laboratories, which included not building an asphalt plant at its Spring Street quarry, making the swath of that quarry closest to IDEXX a buffer, sprucing up the quarry's entrance, and reducing the number of one-second-long blasts each year from 25 to 20.

For its part, IDEXX said thanks, but no thanks.

- John C.L. Morgan

(Update: Pike is evidently using the airwaves to complement the print coverage its compromise offer has been getting, as I just heard a Citizens for Balanced Growth in Westbrook radio ad run on WJJB, the local sports-talk station. In the ad, Westbrook Rep. Ann Peoples, the Democratic representative from House District 125, talks about some of the contents of Pike's new offer--blasting would be limited to 18 seconds per year, etc.--and urges Westbrook voters to contact their City Councilor on Pike's behalf.)

Full disclosure: My wife works for IDEXX.


ISIW said...

Pike has done everything possible to frame this simply as a dispute between themselves and IDEXX while ignoring the other business interests and residents involved in Westbrook Works.

This "compromise offer" continues this program of trying to isolate and pressure IDEXX to withdraw their opposition while ignoring the many other interested Westbrook parties that have participated in the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings over the past year and a half.

The citizens of Westbrook should be proud that IDEXX has refused the easy way out and decided not to abandon the other members of Westbrook Works when this offer of a substantive buffer between Pike's proposed operations here and the IDEXX property. Pike should take a lesson from IDEXX in the event that it ever decides to begin to corporately act like a "good neighbor" in the future.

What Pike has offered here is not really a compromise but a deal that offers them substantively more than what it looks like they'll obtain through the court appeals route they are currently pursuing. What they are offering is to reduce their blasting from 25 seconds per year to 18 seconds per year but with crushing and trucking rock off the site at pretty much the same rate that has caused the massive backlash by abutters since they purchased the site from Blue Rock and dramatically expanded operations here 3 years ago. They are effectively offering a "compromise" to continue the current level of activity that brought the abutters together to form Westbrook Works in the first place. This isn't a compromise as much as it is a last ditch hail mary pass since they have lost at every venue they've tried to pursue bypassing city approvals for their massive expansion plans at this site.

I'm proud of IDEXX for not taking the easy way out and to continue to advocate for an outcome that most of the Pike's neighbors believe is in the best interest of the City of Westbrook as a whole.

ISIW said...

There’s another aspect directly related to the court appeal that has not received any coverage in the press to date. We’ve heard anecdotally for about a year that the sales agreement between Blue Rock and Pike includes a warranty that will allow Pike to recover the costs of purchasing the Spring Street quarry from Blue Rock should Pike find that there are defects with the operating approvals Blue Rock represented it had when they sold this property. In recent filings by the City of Westbrook opposing Pike’s motion to stay the revocation of their 2009 blasting permits, they confirmed that Pike’s attorney met with the City when Westbrook Works first filed their analysis of the history of permitting on this site. In this meeting, Pike’s attorney explained that they had filed a request with Blue Rock to exercise this warranty but that Blue Rock had refused to accept it. This tells me that both parties knew that the legal operating status of this quarry was questionable when the sale went down.

When this case is heard by the court of appeals I can’t imagine the court will find that the City actions have stripped Pike of long standing property rights given that the sale warranty will make them whole once Blue Rock is forced to accept it. This isn’t enough for Pike though – they don’t want their money back here but instead insist they have the right to profit substantially by creating yet another unsustainable quarry here 1.5 times larger than the one they originally wanted to abandon on Main Street but are now saying they will retain for their asphalt plant while blasting and trucking rock over from Spring Street.

When Pike met with the neighborhood residents last year they admitted they had plenty of rock left on Main Street but that it was just getting too expensive to drive it up out of the deep pit there compared to mining on the surface at Spring Street. I contacted Westbrook Works and joined them as a resident member the next day.

YankeeFarmer said...

I really don't get this.

#1) Does Pike believe that they can negotiate a deal with one other party and ignore ALL the other residents and businesses opposed to the quarry?

#2) 18 months ago Pike says to the City, "Give us what we want or we'll sue!" and they sue the City. Now Pike says "Give us what we want and we'll stop suing." That isn't called a compromise, that's called extortion.

#3) Pike is not being "kicked out" of Westbrook. Pike is free to remain at their current location on Main Street and continue to operate there. If Pike does not get a permit to operate a quarry on Spring Street, Pike will remain on Main Street. No jobs will be lost, no effect on their business. They just can't relocate.

#4) The "C" word (compromise) wasn't even in Pike's vocabulary 18 months ago. Now that Pike's claims have been shown to have been false and now that Pike has lost every appeal and challenge so far, they are desperately trying to salvage something from the process.

Anonymous said...

The neighbors are for peace - Peace and Quiet.

Pike needs to stop their illegal blasting.

Anonymous said...

Without that spring street quarry, Jobs WILL be lost. and prices will go up. that is more of OUR tax dollars to buy the hot mix asphalt to pave OUR roads. Let me guess--you are all for TABOR as well. can't wait to see what the entire state's roadway system looks like in 5 years. Businesses like these (Pike, Idexx, and all others in the area)are what our economy needs right now. It is a benefit for us all to have their products produced here, locally, by local people. Not more jobs lost.

Anonymous said...

P.S. who do you think paved Idexx's new parking lot? of course...that was Pike.

Anonymous said...

Someone once suggested they turn the five star parkway into ruble! Let them drive on that for a month!