Uptick in building permits cause for optimism? (Maybe)

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By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Building permit applications in the past six months are up nearly a quarter from the same time period last year.

The rise led city staff to ask Keizer city councilors for a budget adjustment allowing the city’s permit specialist to spend 90 percent of her time on the role. She had been spending 25 percent of her work time in the utility billing department.

“We weren’t going to make any wholesale changes to the program, (but) it was an indication that we’re busier than we thought we would be,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown. “It’s a positive thing.”

New single-family home applications rose by nearly 44 percent from March 1 to September 4, with 16 submitted to the city. By comparison, just 9 were turned in for consideration between March-September in 2011.

Overall permit activity has gone up 32 percent in the past six months, Brown said.

For the most part, permit applications have increased across the board: Electrical is up 26 percent (19 this year versus 14 last year), plumbing is up 25 percent (at 24, six more than the same time last year), and applications for new commercial structures have tripled. Nine were turned in between March and September of this year, with only three submitted in the same time period last year. Accessory structure applications are also up two-thirds.

Residential additions and remodels are holding fairly steady, with 20 turned in this year and 18 last year. Commercial alterations are down slightly.

There weren’t any large projects or developments that contributed to the trend, Brown said.

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