Building permits increase in county

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By Reece Murphy


The issuance of residential and commercial building permits remained strong in Lancaster County during the third quarter of 2013, representing a second year of new construction growth that has already surpassed 2012 numbers.

The news comes as the result of a Catawba Regional Council of Governments (COG) report on building permit trends issued last week.

The report shows Lancaster County outperformed other counties in the region in issuance of three out of five permit types.

COG provides services for local governments in the Catawba region, which includes Lancaster, Chester, Union and York counties.

According to the most recent COG data on regional building permit trends, Lancaster County issued 15 multi-family residence permits between July and September. The permits represent a total of 246 units at a combined value of $31.8 million.

The county issued no multi-family permits during the third quarter of 2012.

Lancaster County issued 12 new commercial building permits during the third quarter of 2013, valued at $46.7 million, which is a 100 percent increase over the same time period in 2012.

The issuance of permits for new mobile homes also increased in Lancaster County from three in third-quarter 2012 to 17 in third-quarter 2013, a 466.7 percent increase valued at $159,813.

By comparison, Chester and Union Counties issued no multi-family or commercial permits during the third quarter, and experienced a 25 and 30 percent drop in mobile home permits with the issuance of three and seven, respectively.

York County – the largest county in the region – issued only one multi-family permit between July and September 2013, a decrease of 90 percent from last year’s third quarter.

York County issued only 19 commercial permits during the same period, a decrease of 55.8 percent from last year’s third quarter, and 11 mobile home permits, down 35.3 percent.

York County did issue more building permits for single-family residences (404) than Lancaster County during the third quarter of 2013.

Lancaster County still saw a significant increase in single-family permits between July and September 2013 when 292 permits valued at $87.8 million were issued. That is  a 32.7 percent increase over the prior year.

Lancaster County, like Chester and Union counties, didn’t issue any permits for new industrial construction. York County issued four industrial permits between July and September 2013.

Two-year trend

The county has already issued more building permits through the third quarter of 2013 than all of 2012, with 793 single-family permits valued at $234.1 million; 35 commercial permits valued at $79.6 million and 40 mobile home permit valued at $382,351.

Building permits in Lancaster County in 2012 included 747 single-family permits, 26 commercial permits and seven mobile home permits in all of 2012. The city of Lancaster issued one multi-family permit in 2012.

As has been the case for most of the past decade, much of Lancaster County’s residential and commercial development is in Indian Land due to its proximity to Charlotte.

According to COG permit data, only 33 of Lancaster County’s 2013 residential permits were issued outside the Panhandle, including three permits by the city of Lancaster. 

The city of Lancaster also issued two commercial building permits this year valued at $1.3 million.

The remaining increase in building permits come as construction for large scale Panhandle projects such as the 387-home Retreat at Rayfield neighborhood adjacent to Sun City Carolina Lakes.

The multi-family permits noted in the third quarter COG report represents a single project, The Enclave Bailes Ridge, the first apartment complex project in Indian Land. Developers broke ground on the project Tuesday, Nov. 12.

What does it mean?

COG Senior Planner Mike Vead said permit data is intended to help local governments visualize and understand where, and in what time frame, county growth occurs.

According to Vead, nearly all “ring counties” surrounding Charlotte are experiencing the same explosive growth as Lancaster County, most often in the areas closest to Charlotte.

Vead said the residential-heavy growth experienced by Lancaster County in Indian Land has both positive and negative aspects.

If a community is growing in residents, he said, that means the community has attractive qualities that generally spur more growth. That’s a positive trend, he said, as long as growth is balanced.

“It’s a problem if too much of the growth is residential; residential development doesn’t pay for it’s own growth (in tax revenue),” Vead said. “Industry and commercial growth do.

“So you have to have balance. It’s not a ‘one for one’ balance, you just need to have new industrial and commercial growth coming in to balance the residential growth.”