BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
---- — SALISBURY — With a number of new businesses moving to town as well as a burst of building in the residential market, after years stuck in the doldrums of the recent recession, things are looking up for the town’s overall economy.
Building inspector David Lovering told selectmen recently that to date, 2013 had already outpaced calender 2012 in the value of new construction projects. In all of 2012, 350 permits were issued, totaling $150,000 in fees for town coffers, representing $9.8 million in new projects costs, Lovering said.
As of the end of August 2013, 248 permits had already been issued, representing $159,000 in fees, and $10.3 million in project costs. Lovering projected that by December, that total could rise to $12.5 million in new projects.
The news was welcome. Since the recession hit, Salisbury, like most communities, had a long dry spell. New construction dropped off precipitously from years of growth in the early 2000s. For example, according to Salisbury chief assessor Cheryl Gorniewicz, prior to the recession, Salisbury usually issued between 500 to 600 permits annually, which included permits for repairs and improvements to local home and businesses, as well as the construction of new homes and commercial buildings.
In 2007, she said, right before the bottom dropped out of the national economy, the town issued 540 permits. In 2008, that eased down to 441 permits, but in 2009, during the worst part of the recession, total building permits of all kinds dropped to 299.
One of the true indicators of economic stability is when new businesses move to town and others within a commercial community expand. Both indicate owners are doing well and they have enough confidence in the economy’s health to be willing to take on the new debt that comes with relocation and expansion.
In Salisbury, that scenario has happened a number of times recently, with expansions earlier this year of local businesses such as Walls Ford and Tom’s Discount, and new entities, such as Mello Disposal and EnPro, moving to town.
Last week, veterinarian Dr. Heidi Bassler moved her animal hospital from its building on Bridge Road to newly reconstructed and larger space at Route 110’s Crossroad’s Plaza, located at 1 Merrill St. Formerly, Bassler Veterinary Hospital had about 2,500 square feet of clinical space, she said, but it wasn’t the most effective format. The new animal hospital has 3,800 square feet that Brassler had designed specifically for its intended purpose.
Bassler planned the expansion for more than two years, she said, and always wanted to keep her business in Salisbury, where her client base is. With the expansion, the practice can continue to accept new patients.
Residential growth has also begun again, after years when few if any new subdivisions or condominium developments were born. Once abandoned, the Northpointe residential subdivision on Seabrook Road is up and going again, as is a unique concept in condominium living at a complex under construction at 12 Beach Road. And there have been individual single-family homes breaking ground as well, Lovering said. And renovations and additions are also improving.
To offer some comparisons, in May 2009 ,only one single-family home pulled a building permit, while 15 residential units received building permits this May, along with one $175,000 addition.
This August, the numbers were also promising, with five single-family homes and one two-family issued building permits, compared to one in 2009.
And not to be forgotten, Gorniewicz said, the 13 acres of land that once was a go-kart venue located at 191 Beach Road is currently under construction with a two-year building plan that will result in 210 apartments.
There’s been little new activity in the town’s industrial park since 2008, Gorniewicz said, even though the town extended its sewer lines down Rabbit Road. But today, there are two sizable building projects there.
One is a $645,000 expansion of TH Glennon at its site on Fanaras Drive, permitted in July. The other is a $772,000 project for Harnam, a new manufacturer coming to town. Also purchasing 5,000 square feet in an existing building in the Fanaras Drive industrial park this year was American Kammann, Inc.
“Yes, things are moving again,” Gorniewicz said.