Gilbert is on pace this year to issue the most single-family home-building permits in its history.
Already crowned the nation’s fastest-growing municipality of its size by the U.S. Census Bureau, Gilbert has processed 2,207 permits in the first five months of 2004, and is projected to issue 5,297 over the course of the year. The town’s current record is 4,242 permits in 1997.
Gilbert this year has twice exceeded 500 permits in a month — 562 in March and 515 in May. March was the first time Gilbert surpassed 500 permits in a month since 789 permits were issued in September 1997.
The numbers led the Gilbert Town Council last week to authorize the immediate recruitment of an additional building inspector to cover the anticipated increased workload.
The council also authorized $7,000 in overtime for town employees who process permits, a $5,000 increase over the previous allotted amount.
Gilbert building and code compliance director Ray Patten said after a building permit is processed, it typically takes between six and nine months before the home is completed and the new homeowners can move in.
Patten said he does not know why the town is seeing a surge in permits, and added Gilbert made no changes to its fees or codes.
Erin Patterson, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona deputy director of municipal affairs, said it’s difficult to predict if Gilbert’s pace will continue.
"Only the market will tell," said Patterson, whose group lobbies on behalf of homebuilders. "We will build to that and that can fluctuate."
Patterson said that in Gilbert, new high-density developments near Williams Gateway Airport could be a factor in the high number of permits. Other factors include the cost of materials and interest rates, she said.
Gilbert Town Councilman Don Skousen said he was a bit surprised when he learned 562 permits were issued in March, the first sign that 2004 could well exceed previous totals.