November 07, 2012 - It's not all economic doom and gloom out there as evidenced by some encouraging housing figures from the Oxford Township Building Department.
The number of Certificates of Occupancy (CO) issued for new residential construction this year has almost doubled compared to last year.
As of Nov 1., the township has issued 21 COs. Last year, it only issued 11.
"That's pretty good," said Planning Commissioner Jack Curtis, who chairs the township's Economic Development Subcommittee (EDSC). "The best direction to head is up."
Oxford Village has a bit of good news, too. Currently, it has three new homes under construction in the Oxford Lakes subdivision. Manager Joe Young noted these are the first new homes to be built in the village in about four years.
"You can see a slow improvement in the economy," Curtis said.. "Just try to go out and find a builder. Try to find somebody who can rough a house. You can't do it. The pay that they receive per square foot on a building is lower, but they're all working."
Permits to begin construction on 32 new residential projects were issued by the township this year. That includes the aforementioned 21 COs.
Curtis noted how right now, folks driving by the corner of W. Drahner Rd. and Pathfinder Trail can see the initial construction of what will ultimately be four duplexes on a 1.5-acre lot. When completed, each of the eight units will be 1,750 square feet in size, consisting of two floors and a basement.
Township Supervisor Bill Dunn explained the main reason for this uptick in new residential construction is the price of vacant land is cheap enough for home-builders to turn a profit.
"Before, you were paying $50,000 to $80,000 for a lot," he said. "Now, you can pick it up for pennies on the dollar, basically $10,000 or $15,000. That makes a big difference to a builder's bottom-line. There's a lot of lots out there that are very, very affordable."
Dunn indicated he knows of an individual who recently bought about 50 vacant housing lots in the Waterstone development. "He didn't do that because he thinks he's going to lose money," the supervisor said.
All but four of this year's COs were issued for homes in subdivisions located within Waterstone. The remainder were for the Willow Lake subdivision.
"These are no-brainers," Curtis said. "These homes are in existing subdivisions with sewer and water (services provided through the township). These guys know what they're doing."
Prior to this year, the issuance of COs was trending downward in the township. In 2009, 37 were issued. That dropped to 19 in 2010 and 11 last year.
One of the things Curtis believes is helping to contribute to this new construction is fact that word is spreading regarding all the positives about Oxford.
"I think it's in response to our marketing of the township," he said. "Thanks to the Automation Alley articles we're getting the word out about Oxford. It's a beautiful place to live. Terrific schools. Great parks. Great fire department. Affordable housing. Vibrant downtown. It all adds up to a nice place to live."
For almost a year now, the EDSC has been publishing press releases on the Automation Alley website.
These releases are regularly distributed to 2,500 journalists, companies and members of the business community.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.