Temple issued more building permits in 2013 than in 2012, while Belton’s numbers remained steady.

Housing starts and building permits are generally viewed as indicators of economic growth.

Temple issued 556 new residential permits in 2013 compared to 519 issued in 2012, city spokeswoman Shannon Gowan said. The city issued 27 new commercial permits, which was one fewer than the number issued in 2012.

“When an economy slows, like it did between 2008 and 2012, increases in addition and remodeling activity will typically occur,” Gowan said. “When the economy picks back up, as in 2013, new construction permits generally occur.”

Belton issued 121 new single-family — not including multifamily duplexes — permits in 2013, which was one more than the city issued in 2012, Planning Director Erin Newcomer said. The city issued seven new commercial permits in 2013, compared to 22 in 2012.

Newcomer said commercial permits can be misleading, however, due to the length of the review process cities use before issuing permits. “It’s hard to gauge commercial because we’re reviewing plans for the (coming) year,” Newcomer said. “When people submit, they have to issue plans before we can issue a permit. We reviewed several plans for 2011, but permits weren’t issued until 2012.”

The addition of several University of Mary Hardin-Baylor facilities in 2012 drove permit numbers up for that year as well, Newcomer said.

“We had a sports complex, batting cages and the stadium,” Newcomer said. “There was a lot of development with UMHB. We also had Starbuck’s and Jimmy John’s. Quite a bit was done then, but I don’t see (2013) as a decrease, because things happen that way.”

Gowan said there are no specific types of structures that Temple city officials will look to add in 2014.

“We look for a well-balanced, diversified inventory of buildings and economy as a whole,” Gowan said. “We anticipate the number of permits to increase in 2014 due to significant increases in rezoning activities, as well as intentions expressed by the residential and commercial development communities.”

Construction on U.S. Interstate Highway 35 has affected the permitting process, Gowan said.

“Also of note is a substantial increase in demolitions,” she said. “This is attributable to demolitions that are associated with the I-35 expansion project.”

The number of demolition permits Temple issued rose to 77 in 2013, after 39 were issued in 2012.

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