Old Problems, New Solutions


January 1, 2008

Old Problems, New Solutions

New strategies to the age-old problem of permitting reserves may be helping some producers succeed in this traditionally difficult area. In fact, results from the 2008 Aggregates Manager Forecast Survey show that 6 percent fewer aggregates managers saw permitting as a major challenge during 2007, compared to 2006. (For more industry insights, see Forecast 2008, page 20.)

Twin techniques may be responsible for progress on this front: new ways of explaining the significance of local resources to the local market and driving home the value of aggregates deposits.

In Southern California, Granite Construction Co. is taking a data-driven approach to minimize the emotional reaction to permitting efforts. As it works to permit its Liberty Quarry, a proposed 155-acre site near the Southwest Riverside-San Diego County line, Granite Construction is sharing facts and figures through a multi-media campaign that includes press releases, video clips, and a dedicated Web site. It cites the shortage of construction materials in Southern California and wisely uses not only independent research but also notes statistics developed by the California Department of Conservation and the state department of transportation.

Key points about how the site would reduce truck traffic and emissions, as well as provide taxpayers with a cost-effective transportation investment, make their case well. In contrast, a local opposition group is using propaganda and scare tactics in its attempt to stop the quarry. Local citizens are recognizing the dichotomy between the two positions. Last August, Gene Campbell, a Temecula resident, wrote a letter in support of the Liberty Quarry. Published in The Californian, it was one of numerous such letters. In it, Campbell noted, “Granite Construction has made it easy to get the information you need to get your decision…Propaganda is just that, but fortunately in today’s information-driven world, we can find the truth if we look for it ourselves.”

On the opposite coast, Londonberry, N.H.-based Thibeault Sand & Gravel offered residents a business alternative if they didn’t want an aggregates operation permitted in their neighborhood: the town could purchase the site — at market value.

“It’s really up to the community as a whole if this is something they want to protect,” Vincent Iacozzi, who’s representing Thibeault, told The Union Leader. “We don’t want to be the skunk at the picnic, and if there is a legitimate need to preserve that property…(the town) has the first right of refusal.”

While community residents whose property abuts the site may continue to pursue the purchase, a spokesman for the town told The Union Leader that he wasn’t sure if voters would support a petition being circulated to purchase the site. Apparently, residents are suffering from sticker shock.

Each of these producers took a different approach, but both share a common thread: aggregates operations are a valuable asset. Consider how that message may benefit your business during its next permitting endeavor.

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