Report: Home building permits up in county

  • By Rick Shrum February 19, 2013
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
New home construction in the Summerbrooke development off Route 19 in North Strabane Township Tuesday Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
A view of Cameron Estates construction from East Beau Street in South Strabane Township Tuesday Order a Print

The number of new residential building permits rose precipitously in the Pittsburgh region in 2012, another indication the housing industry is gaining momentum here. And Washington County was a major player in that boost.

According to PittsburghToday, a website than analyzes aspects of the district, there were 3,717 such permits issued in the region last year, an increase of 800-plus – or just under 30 percent – from 2011.

There are 22 counties in the region, 11 in Southwestern Pennsylvania and 11 in West Virginia and Ohio. Of the 11 Pennsylvania counties, Indiana had the largest increase of about 260 percent (73 to 259).

Washington was second with a 32 percent rise, from 391 new permits in 2011 to 515 last year. According to PittsburghToday, that 2012 figure is the most in the county since 2008, when 539 new permits were recorded.

Allegheny County was next with a 31 percent boost (1,300 to 1,707).

The report listed Greene as having no building permits issued last year, down from 37 in 2011. Officials in two of the more populated municipalities there questioned the accuracy of that information.

Steve Coss, code enforcement officer for Franklin Township, said he issued 13 building permits last year for new single-family homes and six for manufactured homes.

Coss said he reports this information each year to the state and to the Census Bureau. In addition, information on building permits is provided each quarter to the state in relation to Unified Construction Code regulations.

Cumberland Township supervisor Bill Groves also said he didn’t believe the number of permits for the county was accurate. Cumberland normally issues about a dozen permits for new homes each year. Last year, it issued about four, Groves said.

Part of the reason for the decrease, Groves said, was a moratorium on new sewage taps that could be issued by the Carmichaels-Cumberland Joint Sewage Authority.

The state Department of Environmental Protection placed a moratorium on new taps early last year after the authority’s plant exceeded its average daily flow limits in late 2011. That moratorium was recently lifted, Groves said. “We’ve already issued three permits, and there are several more in the pipeline,” he said.

Officials in North Strabane and Cecil townships aren’t disputing the reported figures for Washington County. Their communities are considered prominent growth areas.

“We’ve kept a steady pace, even through the downturn,” said Doug Trbovich, North Strabane’s zoning director. “We had a little downturn, but nothing like many other communities. The township was smart enough to put infrastructure there first. I give the supervisors a lot of credit.

“There’s a lot of housing going on here and everywhere in this county.”

Bruce Bosle, Cecil’s zoning director, said “there is considerable development going on” in his township.

Some of it, of course, is or will be going on in Southpointe II. Ground was broken Monday for a Holiday Inn Express that will feature 90 rooms, and work will begin next month on an upscale apartment complex with about 380 units.

Elsewhere in the township, ground is being prepared for grading for an apartment complex off Klinger Road. The decline in the economy had put that project on hold since the permit was approved in 2007. It eventually will feature 15 buildings with about 360 units,

Last fall, the municipality approved a development on Angerer Road that will have a mix of single- and multiple-family townhomes. NVR Inc. of Reston, Va., the parent of Ryan Homes, will be developing 360 lots of varying sizes.

The Timber Run plan, off Route 980, will be expanded by about 40 lots.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a business reporter in 2012. Previously, he was a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won numerous awards, including a Golden Quill, an O-R staff Golden Quill award, and four other writing awards during his 40 plus years working for daily newspapers. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.


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