Punching the Clock
Sometimes, limiting the hours of operation can help expand opportunities for successful permitting.
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-chief
Producers working in urban environments often face limitations on their hours of operations as a result of neighbors residing in close proximity of the site. However, sometimes even more rural operations face restricted hours as part of permit conditions. Such was the case when Eugene, Ore.-based Rock Products, Inc. sought to expand its operation in Lebanon from 5 acres to 35 acres nearly 15 years ago.
“We gobbled up 5 acres in a hurry,” says John Gregor, the owner of the company. It leased the land from a residential builder who was looking for a material supply source. In addition to its built-in residential customer base, the Linn County-based Lebanon quarry provided most of the aggregates used in county road construction, so Gregor entered into the permitting process with solid relationships with many members of the local government.
“Linn County is a great county to do business with,” he says. “They have a good road department and were on top of everything. They were very competent and above board to deal with.”
Those relationships paid dividends. The permit approval was contested, but the planning department intervened on the company’s behalf and the permit was approved. One condition, however, was a limitation in the number of hours it was allowed to operate: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
“The county was very cooperative,” Gregor says. “I think you need to do what you promise to do. In working to get permits, you have to run through all the hoops. There are a lot of hoops: you need to have lots of background, including geologic maps and soil analysis. If you cover all of that, you can get a permit.”
The restrictions did have some impact on his business. “We had customers who liked to pick up at any old time, including Saturday afternoons and Sundays,” Gregor says. “We were willing to accommodate them – my employees were always happy to work – so the hours were restrictive.”
Over the last several years, Gregor has sold his quarries, with the last one sold off in October 2007. In fact, the Lebanon quarry is now being run by the residential builder he leased the land from in the first place. He says the builder is now focusing more on materials processing and less on building. As for himself, Gregor is letting no grass grow under his feet.
“I just kept my drilling equipment. I may go out and drill and prospect. Then I can try to get the planning department behind me in that county and get another permit,” he says. “I’m in exploration now rather than production, but I had a good run in production.”