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242 building permits in 2010, construction continues into December

Amid ever-increasing activity in the area's energy sector and consequently, a housing shortage, Dickinson permit valuations are nearly 50 percent higher from September 2009 to September this year, ranking Dickinson second in the state for year-to-date increases.

"For me, this was a little bit eye opening," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said at a Monday City Commission meeting. "It's something that confirms I think a lot of the people's thoughts that western North Dakota is growing and growing fast and certainly to see that proof out in these kinds of statistics was interesting for me."

Through November, the city's new building permit values sit at about $68 million, compared to about $42.3 million last year -- numbers that include permits for commercial, public, single-family and multi-family construction, according to city documents.

With new construction popping up across town, the number of new building permits has more than doubled, from 105 last year to 242 to date this year, according to city documents.

"The level of permits we're issuing today is unprecedented," Kessel said.­­­

Kessel said while he has not reviewed permit numbers for an oil boom in the '80s, he suspects they are fairly similar or exceed previous numbers.

Out of the state's nine most populous cities, Dickinson is ranked number two for the amount of multi-family housing permits issued through November -- a number that sits at 67, behind Minot's 216, according to a report from the North Dakota Association of Builders.

"I think just about every decent contractor is plenty busy," said Ron Zeller, owner of Zeller Construction, Inc., and outgoing president of the NDAB executive committee.

Zeller, whose business handles mainly light commercial construction, said the company has a waiting list for a few projects.

"I would say there's just about as much building going on now as there was in '80 to '82," Zeller said.

Doreen Riedman, executive officer for the North Dakota Association of Builders, said builders in western North Dakota are extremely busy.

"It's really ramped up," Riedman said. "They're working non-stop. They're trying to satisfy all the needs out there and do as much as they possibly can."

The city is attempting to add a third employee to its code enforcement department to help alleviate loads from the massive increase.

But, things aren't so good on the nationwide construction front and many out-of-state builders are flocking to North Dakota's strong construction economy.

"The national homebuilding industry has just taken such a hit it's unreal," Zeller said.

After attending board meetings for the National Association of Home Builders, Zeller said "some of the horror stories you hear there are just unbelievable."