Expert Q&A: Vince Dick on permitting

Expert Q&A: Vince Dick on permitting

Vince Dick is a Senior Vice President with Haley & Aldrich and responsible for developing and implementing permitting programs. With Haley & Aldrich for well over 25 years, Vince has developed and completed projects in 27 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Caribbean locations.

Why is permitting such a critical area of focus for our clients?

There are a couple of reasons. One is that the permitting process can take the control of the project schedule out of your hands; you can’t proceed until the permit is issued. Because of that, it’s inherently a drag on the efficient performance of project development – a source of waste. The more permits and interdependencies you have on a particular project, the potential for waste multiplies.

What can Haley & Aldrich do about that?

One of the strengths that Haley & Aldrich brings to the table is our focus on looking at the entirety of an issue rather than just the individual steps and eliminating sources of waste. We develop a very clear model of the permitting process for the project at hand, the information dependencies critical for permit approval, and the mitigation issues that may arise prior to permit issuance. We try to envision the project at completion to understand how a permit might affect its functionality. With that understanding of the end-point, waste can be anticipated and eliminated.

So project delivery is one of the important values that permitting strategy maximizes?

Yes. Don’t forget that on any development project, time equals money. So while it may make everybody happier if the project is completed today rather than six months from now, the financial dimension of those extra months is far more relevant. Do you get the retail store open in time for the holiday shopping season? Even though it’s only a few weeks, January 15th is a far cry from November 15th. Similarly, on an energy development project, complex utility infrastructure depends on that new project being placed into service under a carefully choreographed schedule, without interruption to energy services. On-time project completion is not something to be viewed in the abstract – it has real impact and real value to our clients and the populations they serve.

In what other areas can permitting strategy makes a difference?

With the right information, an owner can often make decisions that eliminate the need for a particular permit altogether. And in some cases – for example, avoiding wetland impacts – where permit restoration monitoring costs and wetland replacement mitigation costs can mount quickly, a strategy to reduce or avoid impacts can be well worth the time spent considering other project configurations. Anything that eliminates the need for a particular permit and the associated cost of monitoring and compliance reporting can be a very significant cost saving over the project’s life cycle.

So how do you help project owners make better decisions?

This is another situation where seeing the entirety of an issue and the entire value chain involved can open up new opportunities that won’t be recognized if a limited focus is applied. For example, we’re working with a client that spends almost $3 million a year on stormwater drainage permit-related costs. At the same time they’re spending around a million dollars purchasing purified water from the municipal utility – only a small percentage of it used for human consumption. We’ve helped them recognize the huge leverage they could earn by capturing rainwater and using it to reduce both water expense and stormwater drainage volume.

For more information about Permitting, contact Vince Dick.