Building permits down in 2008In 2002, Farmington experienced unprecedented growth, with 582 new homes built in the community. Oh, how times have changed.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
In 2002, Farmington experienced unprecedented growth, with 582 new homes built in the community. Oh, how times have changed.
Six years and a turned economy later, Farmington building official Ken Lewis has a total of 74 new residential permits on file for 2008. The number is better than expected.
After 2007, when there were a total of 145 new residential permits issued, Lewis knew the building construction was slowing. The city set a projection of approximately 55 for 2008, so when the total for the year came in at 74, it was a good thing. Cities like Burnsville and Eagan had even fewer.
Of the housing permits for the previous year, 33 were for single family homes, four were for duplexes, and 37 were townhomes. Most of those townhouses, Lewis said, were from Twin Ponds, the Dakota County Community Development Agency’s affordable housing project.
Now, only three weeks into the new year, Lewis says it is far too soon to tell what the upcoming year will bring in housing construction.
“It’s just the market right now,” Lewis said. “We’re at the bottom right now. When it’s going to change, anybody’s guess is as good as mine.”
So far, there are four permits on record for the month of January. In the first quarter of 2008, a total of seven permits were issued. What Lewis is seeing, he said, are mostly homes that are being built because they are already being sold. Many builders have indicated they are not building models in this market.
The city’s building division has been cut back significantly to only include Lewis and one other building inspector. What staff there is was busy last year, though, doing inspections affiliated with other permits. In 2008, there were an additional 834 permits issued for things like building (decks, basement finishes, additions), plumbing (water heaters, water softeners and so on) and mechanical upgrades. All told, the staff did 3,973 inspections in 2008.
“People can’t afford to build new right now, so they’re adding on to their existing homes,” Lewis said.
There were no new public or institutional permits issued in 2008, but School District 192 plans to convert Farmington Middle School East into an elementary school and the current high school into a middle school this summer and Lewis expects to see those building permit applications within the next few months.
In 2008, the city of Farmington issued five commercial permits — two for mini-storage units, one for the new Anna’s Bananas daycare facility on Highway 3, one for the new Allina clinic next door and one for the new pavilion behind the Farmington American Legion. Lewis said commercial permits are “holding steady,” as a total of four were issued in 2007.
During 2008, the city of Farmington issued 91 certificates of occupancy. The city uses COs to determine quarterly and annual population increases, as COs are issued as a residence is ready to be occupied.
The number of COs is multiplied by 2.95, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is the average number of residents per Farmington home. Using that calculation, Farmington’s 2008 population is estimated to have increased by 271 residents, for a total of 21,343.