Although down a planning and development director, the Morgan County Planning and Development Services department is hopping.
Interim Department Director Charles Ewert said the number of building permit applications and planning applications this year is rivaling those of 2007.
“We are in line for the best year since 2007,” Ewert said.
By the end of third quarter this year, 96 people had applied for a building permit. Last year, the total was 77. In 2010, 113 people applied for building permits. Ewert predicts that this year’s number will exceed 2010 figures.
More building permits means more revenue for the county. Last year, the county brought in $137,000 in building permit fees. This year, the revenue is almost $200,000.
Ewert said the 122 planning applications this year is a “big deal” because it indicates development that will likely produce building permits in the next few years.
“They are big applications, subdivisions, things that will bring building permits in the near future,” he said. The Johnsons are reviving plans for their Mountain Green village center. Snowbasin is moving forward with their plans. Another application is Northside Creek.
The department’s staff is the smallest it has been in 10 years, and keeping up with the work has been a challenge, Ewert said. He has 39 open applications in his que. His fellow planners in other municipalities are overwhelmed with six.
“It shows where we are as far as the busy-ness in our office,” he said. “Things are going, that’s for sure. The current demand on the staff is a lot larger than it has been in the past, with less staff.”
Given the workload, Ewert said an average wait time of two weeks for a building permit is pretty good. A majority of building permit applications come in during the months of July, August and September.
Some of Ewert’s load includes stagnant applications that have seen very little action in the last several years. He suggested that the county approve a zoning code that allows for application expiration after a set amount of time of inaction. Some eight of the 39 open applications (or almost 21 percent) Ewert is keeping his eye on are likely expired, he said. The older applications are vested in “old codes that are no longer relevant,” Ewert said.