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Thread: Tracking countywide residential construction

  1. #1
    Oct 2003
    Union County, Ohio (Marysville)

    Tracking countywide residential construction

    Hey there...I come to you with yet another question. I am the Assistant Director of my county's Department of Development. We only do commercial and industrial development..although we are attempting to recruit residential builders to the county.

    The problem is this: we have no countywide planning department and do not practice countywide zoning. Only a handful of the communities here practice zoning and issue building permits.

    My department needs to keep track of residential development occurring in the county for obvious reasons, but this is an extremely difficult task because, like I said, only a handful of cities keep track of new units via building permits. As in most counties, most of our development has been outside urban areas. We have no centralized way to record the number of new homes constructed.

    My department would like to require every person/builder constructing a new structure in this county (outside of the cities) to register with this office. But we do not want to get into planning, zoning, and building permits- we do not have the capacity. We would also like to explore revenue options as well...maybe charging a $30 residential fee and a $75 commercial/industrial fee, etc. This would allow us to record the new construction and raise some money that can be used in a community projects fund.

    Have any of you done something similar? My county is steadily growing but we have no way outside of auditor reports to track the exact changes (besides driving down the highway and saying, "wow...a new subdivison..."

    What should our application/form look like, and what fees should we charge? Is it even legal for our department to do this in the State of Ohio without reviewing building plans and issuing permits?

    Please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts...I greatly appreciate your responses!


  2. #2
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
    Aug 1997
    Clowns to the left, jokers to the right
    Well, if you are just trying to track how many houses or buildings are being built, one way may be to work with the local utility providers. If people are on public water and/or sewer, you could track new utility hookups. Or work with the electrical company to check new power customers or gas company for customers. Cable TV's probably not good cause it may not be available in rural areas, and people can choose satellites now.

    You may even be able to track growth in numbers of people (instead of buildings) by tracking gallons of water or kilowatts of power consumed and dividing by a per person ratio.

    I'd try to track water, sewer, electrical, or gas connections. New buildings would likely need some kind of utility service.

    Another option just for raw growth, without information about the structures themselves, is direct mail senders. Direct mailing lists would grow as new addresses are established in the county.

    Just some ideas.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    1. Do you get filed plats in your county? If so you could use that as a measure, if not resort to asking the towns about new construction permits approved.

    2. You could ask surrounding counties about what they do in this case, since laws are different state to state I don't know if my advice would be legally sound in Ohio.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Often times your MPO will collect this information for improving their population forecast model. I am confused, if this is for belmont county:
    If this is for Dayton:

    Why reinvent the wheel? If you want, you can collaborate so you can both do a better job!

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    Yeah...tracking new electrical hookups wpuld probably be your best bet.

    You'll probably miss some very substandard houses, but that would only be smaller margin of error.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  6. #6
    Oct 2003
    Union County, Ohio (Marysville)
    These are all wonderful suggestions.

    I had not thought of the utilities..that is a very good idea and I plan on contacting various companies later today. I think that in the short term that is my best bet.

    I do not have a problem getting the housing totals from the individual cities themselves- they do a great job of reporting the numbers to us. However, like I stated, most of the growth is outside of city limits in the rural townships. For example, one city reported 83 new structures since 2000, and another city reported only one.

    I do have plat information from the Engineering Department, but I find that the information is somewhat misleading. I have recorded 38 new housing plats since 2000, but I do not have access to how many homes have actually been constructed- each plat is in various stages of construction. (Unlike more urban/suburban areas, residential development is a bit different here. Plats are developed (roads, infrastructure, etc.), but instead of a home builder building 50 new homes and selling them, they just sell the parcels and build the homes as needed. I may know the number of plots, but I have no idea how many homes have been built. I suppose that since I do have their locations I can simply drive to the sites and physically record the data, although that does nothing for the plethora of homes that have been constructed scattered throughout the county in non-plats (expanded water/sewer lines + no zoning or control = sprawl).

    I'm also going to contact BelOMar as Detroit Planner suggested. They're more of a transportation planning agency, but I am sure that they will have some housing data.

    I guess my general concern and "rant" is that I shouldn't have to run from agency to agency begging for information. I worked in the Dayton area and I guess I am used to going to one office to gather my information. Our department is constantly receiving phone calls from developers, media, other governments, and general public asking for updated housing stats. Also, the last Census made us lose a city to a village because (we feel) the numbers weren't correctly gathered- something that we are working hard to prevent in 2010.

    But again, thanks for all of your input!

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