Great points, Sailor. From various real estate projects I've been involved in over the years, here are some more lessons I've learned:
- Often, it's cheaper to pay up front. They will get their cash one way or another.
- At times, the left hand in the same department doesn't know what the right hand is doing. In these cases, the best approach is usually to know the rules yourself, and in cases of conflict, innocently ask that little dumb you had thought XYZ (and cite the relevant code). The is, however, usually one person who can trump others and this is the person to make friends with as possible.
- There are times when various regs or admin codes among local and state depts contradict. As Sailor said, you can use this to your advantage.
- Be extremely well informed and prepared before you talk to anyone or submit anything. It at times takes you knowing more than them and educating them. Sadly, for first time creamery projects, there are often unnecessary issues and holdups during permitting.
- It helps tremendously to work through an intermediary or through someone the county has dealt with in the past. In my current project, for OSS, I am working with someone who does over 80% of the larger plans and installs in the country. I had the permit in 3 weeks, first try.
In your case, I think what happened is some version of the following
- You are trying to go through the process and being respectful of various regs, are trying to obtain all permits.
- Your plans are not finalized because it's the typical chicken and egg issue of you need to have a solid design before they can really comment on it, and you need guidance for how to design it before you submit for permits, so you asked first while having something in mind.
And as a result, you are given a most difficult treatment because you didn't come in with a posture of coming in and slapping a plan down confidently. Unfortunately, niceness works with people, but rarely with these systems.
Here's what I personally do to try and navigate the waters:
- Follow my values. For example, for whey management, I am diverting all whey for re-use, and diverting process water through separate piping so I can reuse the water, because water is hard to come by where I am. This is expensive, but thinking in terms of waste streams helps, regardless of the scale and complexity of your design.
- Use best practices. For example, for your cleaning and sanitation schedule, the process water will be rather hot at times. You might want to boil in caustic sometimes, for example. And it may be full of chems, so have to plan for that, whether it's going to the field or not. It helps permitting depts to see that you have thought through the issues and cite various regs for your choices.
- Know what I want. I don't let rules tell me what to do. Not that they're made to be broken, but I find often rules are stuck in science and ideas that are 20+ years old. Rules often seem to be made with the perspective of what can't
be done, and I am all about what is possible. So I design and do what I want based on what fits my values, and try to work with the most knowledgeable people so they may act as advocates.
- Have faith. If you have knowledge + passion, there's very little that can stand in the way in the long term.
Hope this one works out quickly.