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Lancaster County has seen a slight increase in the number of building permits issued.
But is the rise a sign of a recovering economy or is it merely the result of population increases?
The Catawba Regional Council of Governments recently released statistics that show the number of building permits issued from April through June (second quarter) this year compared to the same time span in 2011.
Data shown is for Lancaster, Chester, Union and York counties.
There were 166 single-family building permits issued in Lancaster County in this year’s second quarter, according to the Council of Governments. In 2011’s second quarter, 160 were issued.
Five commercial permits were issued during the 2012 second quarter; four were issued in last year’s second quarter.
One mobile-home permit was issued in Lancaster County during each of those two second quarters. No industrial or multi-family permits were issued in those time spans.
In Chester County, overall there were 25 permits issued in 2011’s second quarter and just six total during this year’s second quarter. Union County (S.C.) saw 13 for 2011 and five for 2012.
However, York County, like Lancaster County, saw an increase from the 2011 second quarter to that of 2012 – 268 versus 296.
In a release, the Council of Governments shares what it believes is the force behind the numbers in Lancaster and York counties.
“Our analysis of this data shows that some of the region’s four counties experienced increases in single-family residential building construction, which can be equated to population growth,” the Council of Governments said.
Dean Faile, president of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, believes there’s more to it. He sees the numbers as an indicator of a strengthening local economy.
Faile placed extra emphasis on the single-family building permits.
When a new house is built, that homeowner will need various products and services such as appliances, utilities and furniture. Also, when major retailers and restaurants are looking for new places to open, they study building permit numbers, he said.
“As the housing market improves, you know that ripple is going to go throughout the county,” said Faile, who adds that he monitors building permit numbers monthly. “It does really tend to speak volumes of the economic health of the community.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152