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Housing starts on the upswing in Franklin County, Pa.

March 16, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Workers on Thursday put roof tresses on a home being built for Dan Ryan Builders in the Spring Run Estates neighborhood in Washington Township, Pa., near Waynesboro, Pa.
By Bill Kohler

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — After five years of declining activity, Franklin County, Pa., experienced an uptick in the number of building permits issued in 2012 for new homes.

Countywide, 217 permits were issued last year, compared to 179 in 2011, according to data from the Franklin County Planning Department.

Still, homebuilders are cautious in their reaction to the increase.

“It’s been so bad for so long that they hate to get their hopes up,” said Tom Hanks, executive director of the Franklin County Builders Association.

The numbers from 2011 and 2012 represent just a fraction of the housing starts five years earlier. In 2006 alone, the county had 1,257 permits issued for new houses.

Many self-employed homebuilders turned to remodeling to pay their bills, and some went out of business altogether, Hanks said. Today, they are receiving calls from people interested in having new homes built, but are not getting many commitments, he said.

“There are some really good builders who have built one house in three years, and they were building three to four a year” regularly, Hanks said.

Washington Township, which surrounds the Waynesboro area and is adjacent to Antrim and Quincy townships, experienced a surge of home construction in the mid-2000s. That municipality experienced a sharp slump through the end of 2011, but had marked growth in housing starts in 2012.

Washington Township issued permits for 72 new living units last year compared to just 13 in 2011, according to statistics provided by township staff.

Four land-use permits for new living units have been issued thus far in 2013, Township Planner Clint Rock said. Of those, two were for Dan Ryan Builders in the Spring Run development, he said.

Dan Ryan Builders is working on a sales office and model home in that development off Gehr Road. Rock said representatives of the business have told him they have interest in lots and are anticipating seeking six more permits in the near future.

Homebuilder Ted Snowberger also indicated he expects to need more permits soon, Rock said.

Waynesboro Area School Board member Bonnie Bachtell recently told fellow board members they need to think about the possible effects associated with additional homes. She said some schools in the district, particularly Summitview Elementary School, already are filled to capacity.

“We cannot keep putting more and more students in these classrooms bulging already,” she said.

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