The good news is that the number of new home building permits issued in Belle Plaine in 2012 is expected to increase by 200 percent over 2011. The bad news is that only two permits were issued in 2011.

According to Belle Plaine Building Official Scott McCarty on Friday, the number of new single-family home permits in 2012 was expected to total six by the close of business on Monday (Dec. 31).

“We’ve had four so far and we have two more on the way,” said McCarty, adding that it was likely both of those would be finalized on Friday or Monday in order for the builder to take advantage of a 2012 incentive program that was approved by the council earlier this year that reduces the building permit fee for new homes.

There were seven building permits issued for new homes in Belle Plaine in 2009 and eight in 2010. With six issued in 2012 and two last year, the total number of new home permits in Belle Plaine the last four years will stand at 23. There were 42 in 2007, 58 in 2006 and 116 in 2005. The record year for Belle Plaine was 2001 when nearly 200 new home permits were issued.

Looking ahead to 2013, McCarty said there are no other planned single-family or multi-family units planned for Belle Plaine that he knows of at this time.

The continued struggling economy on top of the fact that there was an over abundance of homes built metro-wide in the early 2000s are the biggest contributors to the sharp declines in new home building being experienced in Minnesota and across the nation the past several years. But some good news is being reported this month.

According to a U.S. Commerce Department report, building permits nationally in November increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 899,000 units, the highest since July of 2008.

In the past 12 months through November, housing starts were up 21.6 percent, while permits had gained 26.8 percent.

“More and more, the recovery is widespread. It is nice to see it happen,” said Barry Rutenberg, chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Despite Rutenberg’s optimism, Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve System, said in a recent NAHB article that “overly tight lending standards are slowing recovery for the housing market, which may be preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes, thereby slowing the revival in housing and impeding the economic recovery.”

McCarty said the following permits for new single-family homes in Belle Plaine this year were issued for:

– Schmidt Building and Development, 1372 Robert Creek Curve.

– Schmidt Building and Development, 1396 Robert Creek Curve.

– Property owner, 325 Chestnut Street North.

– Red Stone Builders, 1032 Provence Lane.

The two permits that had not yet been finalized as of Friday but were expected to be issued by the close of business on Dec. 31 were:

– Troy Ruegemer Services, 956 Farmers Ridge Trail.

– Behnke Construction, 913 Sunrise Lane.