Austintown Township's zoning department saw a good year in 2012 with fairly big numbers in a sluggish economy. December closed out with roughly $40 million in new construction, according to zoning inspector Darren Crivelli.
"That far exceeds our totals over the past four years," Crivelli said.
The big number in business permits came from Tractor Supply Company. The permit was pulled for a 125-foot-by-150-foot retail structure at 6225 Mahoning Ave., just east of the former 84 Lumber building. The structure evaluation comes in at $1,100,000.
Also adding to 2012's business permit total of $4,417,509 valuation were a self storage structure at Uncle Bob's Self Storage, 3690 LeHarps Road with a $972,384 valuation; an added structure at Roth Bros./RBI Realty, 3847 Crum Road coming in at $900,000; Auto Zone, 5430 Mahoning Ave. with a rear addition valued at $413,000; Five Guys Restaurant, 107-A South Canfield-Niles Road with a $296,000 new structure; Jimmy Johns/Hot Head, 5450 Mahoning Ave. with a $387,693 new structure; and Meridian Arms, 650 North Meridian Road with a $219,232 physical therapy addition. In total, 22 business construction permits were issued last year.
Under residential construction, the year ended with 13 permits for single family dwellings with a valuation of close to $2.1 million. Crivelli said that wasn't a bad number considering it was slow to start.
"Six of the 13 new single family permits were pulled in the last quarter," he said.
The big addition to the overall valuation was in the public buildings category. Austintown School District pulled the permits for the two new buildings valued at $15,741,000 for the new kindergarten through second grade building at 245 Idaho-Lynnkirk Loop and the $16,059,000 grades three to five building at 225 Idaho-Lloyd Loop.
While there was a lot of construction started in 2012, Crivelli said his office was kept busy from the number of vacant homes in the township.
"I estimate 100 to 150 vacant homes in Austintown and I think the mix is changing," Crivelli said. "Some of the vacant ones became occupied while new vacant homes have been added."
He said vacant homes can be problems when someone vacates the property after destroying the home. He said some have taken the copper pipe and electrical wiring, leaving the home in a sad state of repair.
Part of the problem on the vacancies are people who suddenly find themselves without income or are no longer able to meet their mortgage. When they suddenly abandoned the home, the township starts getting calls on high grass and the property can often be put on the township mowing list. Crivelli said 2013 could bring a possible solution to the problem.
"We're hoping that once the racino is up and running, it will create the 1,000 jobs it promised and help drive vacant homes down," he said.
While site work began in 2012 on the racino, the developers have yet to pull the permit. Crivelli expects that to happen in the first quarter.
"It's a $125 million investment in Austintown," he said.
He said the zoning permits won't reflect that much as it just covers the value of the buildings. In any case, he said it would be the big one for 2013 that will help keep the construction valuations high.
He also said he hopes Bob and Chuck Eddy finds a good location in Austintown for a larger facility. He wants top see them stay in the township.
On a final note, Crivelli said he would like to see the former AMS property developed.