Monday, December 21, 2009

Judge Rules Pike Cannot Blast While Waiting for Appeal

Pike Industries will not be allowed to blast rock
at its Spring Street quarry while the company appeals a zoning board decision in
court. Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey on Wednesday denied Pike's request to blast
up to nine times over a two-month period. Earlier this year, the Westbrook
Zoning Board ruled that Pike does not have the proper permits to operate at its
Spring Street quarry. Pike is contesting that decision in Maine Business Court.
Humphrey last month granted Pike a stay, allowing the company to continue to
excavate, crush and remove rock from the quarry, but prohibiting Pike from
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Judge Sides with Pike on Question of Shutdown Order (November 19, 2009)


ISIW said...

This is an excellent decision by Judge Humprey and represents a real compromise between the opposing parties, unlike the one sided "compromises" offered by Pike so publicly to date. Take a drive by Pike's Spring Street quarry to see just what Pike plans for this site as shown by the clearcutting of the top of the hill that removed the existing buffers that protected the residents on the other side of the road. It's a jaw dropping experience.

The Westbrook ZBA has found Pike preserves no legally grandfathered rights to radically expand operations on this site which is now being appealed by Pike. Rezoning of this area is a critical next step that will define what uses are compatible with the city's vision - successful so far - aimed at attracting high tech business and jobs to Westbrook. Recent federal grants to support this vision have also recently been awarded to Westbrook and the city of Portland is trying to mimic our success and develop a similar biotech business cluster.

Should the court decide the ZBA was wrong and Pike does retain grandfathered rights from a disputed 1968 permit to do whatever they want on this site without city oversight then rezoning will not affect them at all. It will, however, put an end to legal tactics by Pike that will otherwise continue to stall expansion and new development in this critical business area of Westbrook.

Please join me in supporting the rezoning of the Five Star Industrial Park when it comes before the new City council early next year. The future of Westbrook as home and headquarters to the second largest Maine-headquartered business in the state and the quality of life for nearby residents hangs on the proposed rezoning.

Concerned Citizen said...

One of the issues the judge examined was the ability of Pike to continue to extract aggregate from the site using non-explosive demolition agents. The judge reviewed evidence that blasting isn't necessary when these non-explosive agents are utilized.

Like dynamite, these agents are poured into drilled holes where they expand dramatically and fracture the rock. There are a number of brand names, DEXPAN, FRAC-AG, BUSTAR etc. These agents are used world-wide in the mining and demolition industry in situations where blasting is disruptive, impractical or illegal. Glaciers have been making gravel for millions of years through the freeze/thaw expansion of water. These agents do the same thing except much more rapidly.

Pike has refused to use these methods because they are more expensive and Pike's profit margin is more important than it's neighbors, nearby businesses or even the City of Westbrook. If Pike expects to operate in the middle of a housing development surrounded by high-tech businesses, then Pike ought to embrace a high-tech way of making aggregate.

Pike's talks about "compromise" but here is one compromise that would have an immediate, beneficial impact and Pike refuses to consider it. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Concerned citizen if you read the literature from these expansion agents, they are used for boulder removal and dimensional stone quarrying where explosives would damage the rock. No where in the world are they used for aggregate production as they are more expensive than the value of the rock that would be extracted. If I were Pike, as permitted by the judge, I would be up there right now with a large hydraulic hammer pounding away for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, then you all would be begging the judge to allow Pike to blast. Seeing they haven't done that, it appears they care more about the neighborhood than any of you give them credit for.

Disgusted Resident said...


I've heard some pretty strange defenses of Pike offered so far but this one may top the list.

If Pike hasn't decided to quarry this site with hydraulic hammers it's more likely due to these reasons:

1. MUCH too costly.
2. They don't have legal rights to do so without city approval.
3. The city would shut them down immediately if they tried to do it under the current status of the 1968 disputed permits currently under court appeal.

Their concerns about the neighborhood have nothing to with why they aren't quarrying using "large hydraulic hammers".

Your argument does fit well into Pike's pattern of using threats and lawsuits to defend their consistently held position that the city cannot control anything they want to do on Spring Street.