City sees spike in building permits

New home permits also get boost in 2017

Shawano had its highest rate of new home building permits in 10 years in 2017, and the highest number of overall permits since at least 1990, according to city records.

“I think it’s important for people to know that people are building and remodeling and putting money back into their homes,” said Building Inspector and Zoning Administrator Brian Bunke. “I hate to see someone saying that nobody’s doing anything in the city. It’s not the truth.”

The city has recently faced criticism at several Common Council meetings that high taxes and over-regulation have stymied growth in Shawano.

“I don’t know where they got that information from,” Bunke said. “Whoever was saying that didn’t have the proper information and didn’t talk to me.”

Bunke defended the regulations included in the city’s zoning code.

“It’s unfortunate that people seem to think that there’s over-regulation,” he said, “but the reason codes were put in place is for public safety. It’s not to make it a money-making thing for the city. It’s to protect the citizens.”

The city had a total of 660 permits in 2017, including permits for new homes, new commercial construction, and remodeling and home improvements, as well as plumbing and sewer permits, signs and HVAC.

That was up from 628 in 2016, but the city had not come anywhere near those kinds of numbers in the previous 25 years, during which total permits ranged from 217 in 1990 to a high of 450 in 2007.

According to city records, 2007 was also the last time the city saw five new home permits in a single year, which was finally matched in 2017.

There had been only two in 2016.

Most of the new home permits are for residences worth in excess of $200,000.

“Most are all larger ranches or two-story,” Bunke said.

“The way lots are selling around the city, I see that increasing this coming year,” he said.

This year could even be a record if proposed condominiums at the former Shawano Medical Center property go forward.

“You’re looking at 17 new homes depending on how far they get the first year,” Bunke said.

Much of that, he said, is being driven by new businesses coming to town, including the residential medical training center and Belmark Inc.

“With the businesses coming to town, I definitely see a need for more housing,” Bunke said. “We’re going to have millennials coming to town that are going to want to have a little nicer housing.”

Business growth also tends to build on itself, he said.

“I think there’s a trickle down effect to that,” Bunke said. “I don’t think you’d see Culver’s coming here if they didn’t see growth. You wouldn’t see Prevea coming here and building. These people do their studies to know whether or not it’s worthwhile to come here.”

Bunke noted there is financial assistance available for businesses wanting to come to Shawano or expand.

“There’s funds available and I hope people take advantage of that,” he said.