Friday, November 14–Building Permit Declines Reported All Over County

SNOW HILL – Residential building permits in Worcester County and its municipalities have fallen, in some cases drastically, in 2008.

In the county, outside the towns, residential building permits have gone down by as much as 75 percent since 2005.

In 2005, Worcester County issued 511 building permits, for 532 units, an average of 42 building permits a month, but that number has steadily dwindled. In 2006, residential building permits dropped precipitously, to 334 permits for 423 units, an average of 28 permits each month.

The downward motion continued in 2007, with 184 permits issued in the county for 240 units, averaging 16 permits per month. The first 10 months of 2008 have seen just 114 Worcester County residential building permits issued, or 11 permits on average each month.

If November and December also see average permit numbers, the final tally, estimated at 137 permits for 2008, would have dropped 76 percent since 2005, with 374 less permits issued.

The 2008 Worcester County numbers so far break down to 87 single-family stick built homes; one duplex; zero multi-family projects; three manufactured homes; and 23 mobile homes.

While single-family dwellings in Worcester County have dropped steadily for the last several years, multi-family units have seesawed up and down.

Mobile homes appear to be holding steady over the last four years, hovering around the high 20a, with 31 permitted in 2005, and 23 permitted in 2008 to date.

The county saw 28 permits for manufactured homes issued in 2005, but just three issued so far in 2008.

Berlin has seen a tremendous decline in building permits over the last year. In 2007, Berlin issued 256 residential building permits, but in 2008, as of October, Berlin has handed out 15 residential building permits, a 94-percent decline.

Residential building in Berlin actually went up between 2005 and 2006, from 188 permits pulled to 303, only to fall in 2007 to 256.

Ocean City has seen a relatively smaller downward trend in number of building permits issued, but a drastic change in the estimated value of new construction. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated value of permitted structures in Ocean City was $190.7 million. In fiscal 2008, that number is just $69.6 million.

The Ocean City numbers, which were not broken down into residential and commercial permits, have varied only slightly over the last four fiscal years: in fiscal year 2005, the resort issued 1,979 permits; in 2006, fewer permits with just 1,838 issued; and in 2007, the permits peaked at 2,065. In fiscal 2008, permits stood at 1,795.

Snow Hill has seen a drop in building permits but the change is less significant than in other county jurisdictions, with few residential building permits issued at all in recent years. In 2005, the county seat issued only six permits, with 10 in 2006, nine in 2007, and just three so far in 2008.

Pocomoke City, not usually considered a development hotspot in Worcester County, has also seen a decline in residential building permits, from 130 in 2005, to just 14 in 2008. The number of 2008 Pocomoke City permits issued comprises roughly 10 percent of the permits pulled in 2005. Permits went from a high of 130 in 2005, to 105 in 2006, then 69 in 2007, to just 14.

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