New home construction down in county

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

15 percent fewer permits issued than in 2017

By Jeremy Weldon

The Panola County Land Development Office issued more than 400 permits last year, including 64 for construction of new stick-built homes.

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The numbers are part of a report given to the Board of Supervisors at its first meeting of the new year Monday at the Sardis Courthouse. Chad Meek, who serves as the county’s permitting clerk for any construction work and residential inspections outside the city and town limits, also said 22 special exceptions were allowed by the Land Development Commission during the past 12 months.

“We did have fewer new homes but, overall it was a good year,” Meek said of the 404 permits. His office issue permits for stick-built and manufactured homes, recreational vehicles, and provides inspections of electrical and wastewater systems before utilities can be connected, or re-connected, in the county.

Meek told the supervisors 64 new homes were permitted and 90 new manufactured homes were set up in the county during 2018. Additionally, he said three permits were issued for owners of new recreational vehicles.

In 2017, some 76 new home permits were issued and 85 manufactured homes were allowed.

In the year just past, the office approved permits for electricity to 91 existing homes, and 114 permits for existing wastewater systems. These permits are necessary when a property – usually a rental house – becomes vacant and new renters want to re-connect electrical and water service with bills in their name.

Meek and his office uses these inspections to insure the properties are being kept up to minimum building codes in place to reduce fires and other hazards. He said potential renters sometimes try to avoid inspections and the cost of utility deposits by not having power and water services discontinued, but the occupants leaving a property usually want to recover their initial deposits and don’t want an extra bill in their name.

In 2017, some 76 new home permits were issued and 85 manufactured homes were allowed.

Meek said he is also aware that people sometimes bring in old mobile homes to be used for storage or often as hunting camps without proper permitting. For the most part, though, the Land Development Office keeps a close watch on all movement of manufactured homes and works to uphold the county ordinance that doesn’t allow older model house trailers to be set up in the county.

Anyone seeking a special exception to operate a business, or place a house or mobile unit, in the county must also file that paperwork with Meek’s office. The board of commissioners meets once a month to decide those matters.

Meek’s office, at the urging of the land commissioners and supervisors, made good strides in 2018 in having properties in the county cleaned and having small, “mom and pop” style businesses officially licensed and operating with a permit. Many of these businesses are flea market and large yard sale events, or are seeking permission to operate small one-stop shops that specialize in the sale of beer, soda, cigarettes, and chips.

In the 2018, the Land Development Office was able to condemn, adjudicate, and clean two dilapidated properties in the county and begin the process of cleaning up several others.