Home construction numbers improving

Staff Writer
Ken Francis
It’s been said that real estate is a good indicator of how the economy is going.
If that’s the case, then the economy in Sherburne County is on its way back.
The year-end report from the Sherburne County Planning and Zoning Dept. shows new home construction continued to climb again in 2013.
The report shows there were 231 total permits issued for new home construction throughout the county last year, 113 in  townships and 118 in cities, plus 38 apartment units.
That number is up significantly from 2012, when there were a total of 140 new home permits.
Elk River had the largest number of new home permits in 2013 with 82.
The City of Big Lake had 21 single-family home permits and permits for another 38 units of multi-family housing.
Becker led all the townships with 34 single-family permits, with homes valued at $7,880,894.
Big Lake Twp. had 31 new homes with a total value of $7,116,000.
Livonia Twp. was next with 23 new homes, followed by the City of Becker (11), Baldwin. Twp. (6), Palmer Twp. (5), Orrock Twp. (5), Zimmerman (4), Blue Hill Twp. (3), Clear Lake Twp. (3), Santiago Twp. (2) and Haven Twp. (1).
There were no new home permits issued in the City of Clear Lake, or in the Sherburne County sections of Princeton and East. St. Cloud.
The 231 permits for new homes (plus 38 apartments) in 2013 is the second straight year of increases.
Back in 2008, the county was on the downswing after many years of unprecedented home building. That year, permits totalled just 109, compared with over 400 each year from 1996 through 2005 in the townships alone.
In 2009 the county had 87 permits for new homes, then sank to 85 in 2010 and 73 in 2011 (not including apartments.)
The economy began to show signs of improvement in 2012 as the number of foreclosures on the market shrank. That year, the average valuation of new homes also jumped, from $168,833 to $235,705.
Valuations were a bit lower in 2013 at $220,831.
The report also estimates the population increased slightly with the new home construction. Based on a rate of 2.50 people per residence, the county’s population increased from 89,161 to 89,834.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)