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Published: Wednesday, 1/26/2005

Northwood: Steady growth praised; more expected


Steady growth describes Northwood in 2004; officials are hoping 2005 will be the year the city starts a central business district.

The city recently released the planning and zoning department's 2004 annual report, which describes how Northwood spent more money on new construction projects, introduced a new program to boost local businesses, and updated a comprehensive plan to foster a unified city.

More than $10.5 million was spent for new city construction projects last year, which is a 39 percent increase from 2003's $7.5 million spent, according to the report.

Although no commercial buildings were built in 2004, the city issued a dozen operating and locating permits for new businesses to move to the city.

"We're definitely on the move," Mayor Mark Stoner said. "It's not like last year was a record-setting year, but I think we've had good, steady growth."

Heather Sayler, planning, zoning, and economic development coordinator, said the city has also issued more commercial, industrial, and residential permits in 2004 than in 2003, representing a total 17 percent increase.

"It's different from year to year, but it is up from 2003 to 2004," Ms. Sayler said. "I'm sure it depends on the economy."

She said 265 residential zoning permits were issued in 2004, compared to the 242 issued in 2003, representing a 10 percent increase. In that category,

permits for new residences increased the most, with 19 issued in 2004, compared to the nine that were issued in 2003, according to the report.

Four industrial buildings and the city's new fire station on Tracy Road to replace Fire Station No. 1 were given permission to build last year as well, and two businesses were given the OK to expand, according to the report.

The fire station, which Ms. Sayler said will be an asset to the city, is slated to be finished Sept. 7.

Construction began last year for the Birchwood Hollow subdivision, located off Wales Road near I-75, which will add 34 villas to the city, Ms. Sayler said.

Site work began last year on Crosscreek Meadows, which will hold 215 single-family lots, and on the Villas of Crosscreek Meadows, which will add 60 more villas. Ms. Sayler said the subdivision is expected to be finished in 10 to 15 years.

"It seems like our population is going to boom because of these new subdivisions," she said. "They're attractive; they're new."

City officials were hoping the "Buy Northwood For Northwood" program introduced last year would help local businesses boom as well, but Ms. Sayler said it received mixed reviews.

Twenty-one local businesses - from restaurants to auto body shops - participated in the program by offering discounts to residents through the month of September.

Ms. Sayler said some felt the program went well, and others did not have any coupons redeemed at their businesses. The city plans to continue the program every year.

"It's new for everybody, and that's something we definitely want to improve on," Mayor Stoner said.

Also new last year was the city's comprehensive plan, which became effective this year on Jan. 1.

Ms. Sayler said the top priority is creating a central business district that would envelope Woodville Road and Wales Road to Drouillard Road, and would include Woodville Mall and all commercial business on Woodville Road to help unify the city's east and west sides. She said city officials will most likely start looking for some grant money to get the project going.

Mayor Stoner said he looks forward to accomplishing as many comprehensive plan goals as possible.

"I think it's going to help the city," Mayor Stoner said. "I think it's the wave of the future."

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