Douglas County Land and Resource report breaks down building trends
If economic recovery can be measured by an increase in housing additions, we're feeling much better. Douglas County collected $219,057 in permit fees for 2012; 11 percent more than in 2011. In fact, all but one category saw an increase. Preliminary plats are still lower in comparison with the five-year average.
Since 2009, there has been some levelling out and in 2012 there was a significant rise in home addition permitting, said Douglas County Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush.
"2004 was about the peak of activity in Douglas County," Rush said. "Essentially, 2009 was the bottom."
A record setting 147 dwelling addition permits were issued in 2012, the highest it has been in a decade. A 10-year look into the past better identifies progress based on permits than a five-year glance, Rush explained. Total permit applications were 5 percent higher than 2011, which is 2 percent above the five-year average. New dwellings and non-structural permits also increased.
"We're hearing more from realtors about movement in the housing market," Rush said. The trend is expected to continue in 2013.
Department highlights from 2012 included aquatic invasive species (AIS) watercraft inspection, county-to-county collaboration and enhancements to the septic program.
Acquisition of a county-owned watercraft decontamination unit, a DWI forfeited pickup and hiring of five watercraft inspectors enabled more than 1,200 hours of inspection between June and September 2012 in Douglas County. A Department of Natural Resources grant funded wages for the inspectors.
Hundreds of watercraft were washed and boaters were educated on how to stop the spread of AIS. Despite aggressive efforts, three additional lakes were added to the infested waters list. There are now 18 lakes in Douglas County infested with zebra mussels: Alvin, Brophy, Carlos, Cowdry, Darling, Geneva, Ida, Irene, Jessie, L'Homme Dieu, Long Prairie River, Lottie (also known as Taylor), Miltona, North Union, Stony, Victoria and an unnamed river from the outlet of Irene to Miltona and an unnamed river from the outlet of Lake Miltona to Ida.
In the midst of advancements in the watercraft inspection program in Douglas County, the land and resource office in neighboring Pope County was struggling to stay afloat. A retirement, two resignations and a termination left the office understaffed. Rush stepped in to provide oversight and leadership.
"It's been challenging at times to try to split my time between two offices," Rush said. "But I think it's very helpful for us to offer some assistance to Pope County and have their program continue to operate."
Rush said spending time in Pope county has provided some county-to-county consistency.
A revised septic ordinance enhanced services with a new database that offers a human and environmental risk assessment tool. The Clean Water Funded Septic Enhancement program was put together through a collaboration of the Land and Resource Management staff, University of Minnesota on-site program and the Alexandria Technical and Community College. Educational materials and new permit and tracking forms were created. Rush said the electronic record keeping developed will help both homeowners and septic professionals.
The complete 2012 Land and Resource Management Annual Report can be viewed on the Douglas County website.
2012 LAND USE PERMITS BY TOWNSHIP
Township - Total Structures - Total Valuations
Belle River - 7 - $390,090
Brandon - 48 - $1,691,482
Carlos - 86 - $3,902,987
Evansville - 12 - $405,424
Holmes City - 24 - $1,194,497
Hudson - 49 - $2,281,120
Ida - 57 - $1,678,140
LaGrand - 94 - $3,180,458
Lake Mary - 50 - $3,487,179
Leaf Valley - 14 - $149,400
Lund - 18 - $607,812
Millerville - 17 - $459,182
Miltona - 43 - $2,100,973
Moe - 46 - $1,803,882
Orange - 6 - $233,460
Osakis - 12 - $1,566,744
Solem - 5 - $183,600
Spruce Hill - 9 - $99,764
Urness - 18 - $1,035,048
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.