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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 10/16/13
Building permits on the
rise in local townships
by CHRIS GRAYNew building projects in the local area is building confidence that the economy is on its way to recovering.
Observer Staff Writer
Building permits in the townships of Bruce, Ray and Washington for housing units are on the rise, which local officials interpret as a sign that the Great Recession that began in late 2007 may be on its way out.
The latest figures show Washington Township has issued about 150 permits for new homes since January, with another 30 that are expected to be issued soon. This is a far cry from the 21 residential permits pulled in 2009.
Supervisor Dan O'Leary said with this much growth, he expects the township could issue more than 200 permits by the time 2013 ends.
"It's just a really good sign of things rebounding," he said.
Last year, around 160 were issued by the end of 2012. O'Leary said the peak years for the township were in 2004 to 2005 when 400 homes were built.
O'Leary said Washington Township is considered the "Grosse Pointe of the north," with three developments under construction and another three in various stages of planning or engineering to keep up with demand.
"Regardless of what happens, we will continue to be one of the top three building communities in the county," he said. "We have low taxes, growing services, a high-end community and open space<it's got a lot to offer."
There are few signs of this growth slowing down. Mike Bommarito, the township building official, said when speaking to builders he is told they are trying to keep up with the demand for homes.
"Washington Township is a hot spot people are looking to go to," he said. "Before houses are even at the finished stages they're sold."
Bommarito said areas like 29 Mile Road and Mound are seeing the most growth due to the availability of lot space.
Bruce Township joins its southern neighbor in seeing growth. At this time last year the township issued nine housing permits, while its most current number is 25 with three more ready to be issued. This is double the 2012 total of 12 permits.
"We have proof positive in Bruce, at least building-wise, that people are starting to build again, and that is good for everybody," said Supervisor Richard Cory.
Cory contributes the growth to quality of life assets like the local Parks and Recreation department, large lot sizes and a good school district, and expects the development of the industrial corridor on 33 Mile Road to bring more.
"That could open up hundreds of jobs, and those people have got to live somewhere," he said.
He said subdivisions like Caldwell Meadows that saw little to no activity are the areas seeing the biggest growth in Bruce Township. In 2009, the township only had two housing permits pulled.
Other communities are seeing modest growth. Last year, Ray Township gave four permits in 2012, and has increased that number to five in 2013.
Supervisor Charlie Bohm admits there hasn't been a significant increase, but noted that the township's repossession list has been halved in the past two months.
"In general things are looking up," he said. "We have lots and houses selling."
Cathy Cichecki, the township's building secretary, said she is expecting more applications for homes before the year is out, but doesn't foresee the number hitting the peak years of 1998's 36 homes.
"I think people are feeling safer that things are getting better," she said. "We still have a ways to go."
She said the homes have been spread out over the township as opposed to being concentrated in one area. In 2009, three housing permits were pulled.
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) reports that Macomb County saw 4,764 new housing units permitted between 2010 to 2013, 3,595 of which were single family detached units.