Building permits on an upward swing in Forsyth County

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The strong building permit numbers, both residential and commercial, rank as a significant increase since the downturn in 2008, according to the Forsyth County Director of Planning and Community Development Tom Brown.

“We are busy and most of the work is related to new construction. Building permits, building inspections and plan review numbers have all increased for 2013,” Brown said.

It’s almost telling, looking at overall numbers, when the construction bubble burst.

The total number of permits issued in 2007 was 2,927, the following year, in 2008, the number dropped to 1,504. But reached its lowest in 2009 when only 849 permits were issued.

Forsyth County Commissioner Todd Levent said people are moving to Forsyth County for all that it has to offer. Levent said he encourages developers to build a better quality product.

“We are the county leading the state out of the economic downturn,” Levent said. “The fact that Forsyth County has so much to offer with its low crime rates, low taxes, best parks in the state and better schools in the state — it becomes a magnet for families to move here and live in a quality environment.”

New construction permits from January to March of this year totaled 545, which is an increase over this time last year of 201 permits.

Cities of Alpharetta and Johns Creek have also reported increases in permit activity.

Building permits for Alpharetta in the last three years have steadily risen since 2010, with a marked jump between 2010 and 2011.

There were 339 commercial building permits – for everything from new businesses to office buildings - issued for 2010, a number which jumped to 427 the following year.

In 2012, that number leveled out, dropping slightly to 408.

Residential building permits, which can include new additions to houses or renovations, have also risen. In 2010 there were 279. In 2011 there were 336, which grew to 358 the next year.

For Johns Creek, 2011 saw 165 commercial building permits issued, while the following year saw that number fall dramatically to 26.

So far this year, three have been issued. As could be expected, most of the movement in Johns Creek was on the residential side, with 271 new housing permits issued in 2011, with 143 of those coming from two developments. The following year, 168 new housing permits were issued.

This year looks to be on par with the previous years, with 27 residential building permits issued in January and February. In 2012 for the same period there were 23 and in 2012 there were 17.

While numbers for the city of Milton were not readily available, Community Development Director Kathleen Field said the city has been inundated with applications for building residential homes.

"We have picked up big time," Field said. "There are lots [of developments] in the pipeline."

Jonathan Copsey contributed reporting to this article.

This article was published in the Forsyth Herald April 10, 2013 edition