To help stimulate the local economy, water and sanitary sewer tap fees for new construction of single-family homes in currently platted subdivisions will be waived in the village of Whitehouse now through February, council has decided.
Council agreed to the waiver after local builders and developers met with village officials to discuss ways to attract new residents to Whitehouse and to reduce the inventory of buildable lots in the municipality.
The program waives water tap fees ($750) and sanitary sewer tap fees ($1,100) for a total savings of $1,850, and the savings must be directly passed along to the new home- owner.
Some local developers and builders approached the village, asking for an incentive package to entice people to build in Whitehouse, said Barbara Knisely, Whitehouse's Community Development Coordinator.
The program is unusual, she said. "As far as we know, we are the only community anywhere doing something like this" in the area, she said.
In recent years, the number of new residences in Whitehouse peaked in 2005 when 103 homes were built, but the economic downturn and the stalled housing market plunged new construction to just one home in 2009.
Numbers had climbed in the years leading up to 2005 with 38 homes built in 2001; 41 in 2002, 74 in 2003, and 93 in 2004. Then, after 2005, the tumble began with only 50 homes built in 2006; 25 in 2007, 15 in 2008, and then just one in 2009. There were 12 homes built in 2010 and 8 permits for new homes issued so far this year.
Despite of the decline in recent years of new home construction, Whitehouse was the fastest growing community in Lucas County between 2000 and 2010, according to recent census figures, Ms. Knisely noted. The village's population soared 51.8 percent to 4,149 residents during that 10-year period.
That obviously means people have been drawn to the community and what it has to offer, she said. "They are coming here for a reason."
One popular reason: the excellence of Anthony Wayne Schools.
However, Ms. Knisely pointed out, people who want to reside in the school district can build homes in neighboring areas, such as Waterville, Monclova, and Monclova Township.
The fee waiver program adds another element, another reason to build in Whitehouse, she said.
"We've got a lot to offer here," she said, adding that she's been noticing some "Why not Whitehouse?" slogans tied to efforts to get people to move to town and to build here as well.
Since the waiver was introduced in recent weeks, six permits have been issued, and all are participating in the cost-savings program, Ms. Knisely said.
There were two permits for new homes issued in January, and those did not get the $1,850 savings per house.
Village officials predict that the savings could be enough of an incentive to nudge people into building now.
A review of the eligible lots showed that a good number of purchased lots are owned by individuals. "There are a lot of people out there who bought lots," she said, but for whatever reason, haven't yet built their homes.
The temporary waiver program only applies to the following platted subdivisions: Blue Creek Gardens, Blue Grass Farms, Blue Prairie, Estates of Blue Creek, Finzel Farms, Lone Oak Crossings, Oak Pointe, Savanna Lake, Steeplechase, Wesley Farms, and Whitehouse Valley.
In those subdivisions, there are 187 lots eligible for the waiver.
The waiver program is a great idea, particularly because there is a substantial inventory of platted lots, Ms. Knisely said, adding the program is a joint effort with developers and builders in an effort to "drum up interest" in constructing homes here.
Village officials advise people who own buildable lots in the eligible subdivisions to contact their builders to discuss the savings opportunity, and officials encourage anyone who is interested in building a new home to consider Whitehouse and to take advantage of the cost savings.
Contractors and homeowners will sign affidavit forms as a way to verify that the savings goes to the homeowners. "We want the savings reflected to the eventual owner of the home.
Council wanted to make sure that ultimately the purchaser of the home realized the savings," Ms. Knisely said.
The waiver program will end Feb. 14, 2012.
Complete program details are available at Whitehouse Village Hall.