County sees gains in pulled permits

Beth Collins, Lenoir City planner, goes over plans for the new Ashe Avenue subdivision.

The number of permits pulled in Loudon County showcase positive growth even during a difficult 2020.

The county issued 647 permits, which surpassed the prior high of 622 in 2018.

“I thought it would be another good year,” Jim Jenkins, county codes enforcement director, said. “I think we were going to hold true for the past few years. We’ve been on this uptick and we’re kind of at this level where even last year was pretty good, so I expected it to be fairly even with last year. We didn’t issue 600 more permits, we issued more. ... I expect Loudon County to continue no matter what the economy does. I think Loudon County will continue to be shielded from a lot of the effects of the rest the country and will continue to grow.”

Lenoir City experienced gains in residential, more than doubling single-family permits from 2019, Beth Collins, city planner, said. Lenoir City pulled 113 permits compared to 69 in 2019.

“In 2019 we wrote 23 single-family permits and 2020 we wrote 66,” Collins said. “I mean it’s great. It’s great that things are still moving forward. We’ve been very fortunate in Lenoir City that since I’ve been here we’ve never really had much of a slowdown. We’ve either stayed steady or increased year to year pretty much. We’ve got several subdivisions that are going on right now, which has helped drive this. But I mean sheer number-wise that’s a big jump from ‘19 to ‘20.”

Collins pointed to expansion in Knoxville as a possible reason why Lenoir City continues to grow.

“We have a very unique location here with all the roadways that come in and out of the city,” Collins said. “You’ve got (Highways) 321, 11, you’ve got 95 and 70, plus you’ve got Interstates 40 and 75. You can be in a lot of places in 20 minutes. A lot of people can get — their money goes farther as far as the housing market and things here than say West Knoxville or something. They can get a little bigger house, nicer house, it’s also not as dense, so you have a little bit more elbow space here. You have more of a smaller-town feel than you do in West Knoxville or something like that, and it’s not a bad commute anywhere.

“... 2020 was kind of an up year for residential and I think that’s because we had several subdivisions that had some expansions going and we’ve got so much trickle down as far as residents coming from other cities or states,” she added. “We have a lot of people moving here from other states that like the climate and weather and that sort of thing.”

New subdivisions such as Ashe Avenue are popping up, while Harrison Glen, Carrington and Allenbrook remain strong.

Even commercial development is “steady,” she said.

“For instance, in ‘19 we did six new commercial and in ‘20 we did eight,” Collins said. “In ‘19 we did 14 additions or renovations to commercial, we did 17 in ‘20, so they’ve stayed pretty even as far. Now, a lot of times on the commercial side of things you’re thinking out way into the future. Toward the end of last year we had a dramatic drop off on our commercial side. I think that had to do with many people didn’t know where things were going to head with the pandemic and stuff, so probably put a halt to some projects. That has kind of stayed like that so far. Of course, this our down time anyway building-wise until we hit about March. When March and April get here I’ll be interested in seeing if things pick back up. It may take a moment for the commercial side to pick back up.”

Loudon’s residential permits have increased since 2018. In 2020, the city pulled 98 residential and 14 commercial permits.

Ty Ross, Loudon manager, believes that’s a good sign for the city.

“The cost of money is with interest rates being low that helps the city as well,” Ross said. “It’s easier for the city to borrow money for projects. ... Loudon County, the city of Loudon in particular, it’s a great place to live. There’s great bones here for development, major arterial and connector roads on this side of the county, along with the interstate and the waterfront.”

He hopes similar growth will occur in 2021.

“If I had a crystal ball I would say that the second half of 2021 would be better than the first half of 2021 just because we’ll have hopefully a handle on the pandemic through greater vaccine distribution,” Ross said.