558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Water analysis business growing into new building
Box R Water Analysis Laboratory is seeking a code change to allow their business to move into a residential building
October 29, 2012
During a time when many industries have endured reductions to stay in business, one company is instead struggling to make room for continued growth.
Sherri Miyazaki opened Prineville-based Box R Water Analysis Laboratory in 2007, occupying an approximately 800 square-foot suite at the North Main Business Complex.
Miyazaki has since experienced a substantial spike in business, and needs more space to keep up with client demand.
“Most of our clients come by word-of-mouth,” she said. “We used to advertise, and we stopped because I can’t take any more people until I get more space. That has been a couple years ago.”
The lack of space has also stopped her from hiring new employees. Miyazaki said that state law requires her to provide at least 600 square feet of business space per employee. At 800 square feet, that rules out the possibility of even one employee — she needs about seven.
Unfortunately for Miyazaki, moving to a bigger location presents a unique set of challenges. Box R tests a variety of water types from drinking water to wastewater. To do so, she must meet rigorous NELAP (National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program) standards.
“When you’re a NELAP-certified lab, your laboratory has to stay at a specific temperature, plus or minus one degree,” Miyazaki explained. “And that’s just one of the issues. There are many, many things you have to have to make your certification.”
Consequently, she seeks a facility that lends itself to the necessary modifications needed and fits her budget. So far, a house strikes her as the best choice.
“I need something affordable, because I am going to have to break it down to its bare bones,” she said.
The problem is the interpretation of City of Prineville zoning laws has thus far prevented her from operating in a residential area. City Senior Planner Josh Smith said the word “laboratory” in the Box R business title became a primary sticking point.
“When we looked at the code, we said, ‘Well, her business is Box R Water Laboratory,” he said, emphasizing the last word. City zoning laws dictate that laboratories are not allowed in a residential zone, but must reside in an industrial or C2 commercial zone.
Despite that hurdle, the City offered Miyazaki the option to plead her case in front of the City Planning Commission. Smith said she needed to convince the Commission to make declaratory ruling that reinterprets her laboratory as a professional commercial business.
“By doing that, it opens up the possibility of a conditional use in residential zones as well as the C1 or downtown commercial zone and our professional commercial C3 (zone),” he said. “And that (reinterpretation) makes it (an) outright (use) in a C2 zone, which was conditional before.”
Earlier this month, Miyazaki went before the Commission. While they must hold a public hearing before making a final decision on the matter, Smith sensed they would interpret the business as professional commercial. The public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.