Despite the housing construction quagmire and the sub-prime mortgage debacle being experienced nationwide, growth and development continues at a record pace in San Juan County.
During 2007, following a record year in 2006, 154 building permits were issued by the County, and the Cities of Monticello and Blanding.
The County issued 105 permits, valued at $11,124,237. Building permits outside the city limits of Blanding and Monticello are issued through the County. County permits were issued in the following areas: La Sal 30; Spanish Valley 28; Blanding area 23; Monticello area 18; Bluff 6; Wilson Arch 1; and Lisbon Valley 1.
The most surprising single statistic in the county breakdown is the large number of permits issued in La Sal. In recent years, Spanish Valley (south of Moab in San Juan County) has been far and away the largest single producer of building permits.
La Sal’s high number of building permits in 2007 is an indication of how big an economic stimulus has become the Lisbon Valley Copper Mine and the resurgence of uranium mining.
Blanding City issued 35 permits valued at $2,520,887 and Monticello City issued 14 permits valued at $822,554.
The total value of permits from the county and the two incorporated cities came to nearly $15 million. That figure is for tax valuation purposes, not actual retail value, which is often higher.
A major blow economically occurred with the surprise announcement of the closing of mining operations at the Lisbon Valley Copper Mine and the loss of more than 100 high paying jobs. However, the continued growth in uranium mining, hauling and processing may take up much of the slack.
Bolstering uranium as an economic stimulator is the exploration for and transporting of natural gas. Drilling in the area has resulted in several major new natural gas wells. Also being brought into production are old wells that were capped decades ago because there was no way to get the gas in the wells to market.
There are $26 million worth of high pressure steel natural gas lines being installed to gather gas from wells in various parts of the county, (mostly east of Monticello) This gas will be shipped by pipeline to the Encana gas plant in Lisbon Valley. Encana is capable of purifying 80 million cubic feet of gas a day. Last fall they were limping along on 24 million cubic feet a day.
The new gas volume will not only greatly help Encana’s bottom line, but will greatly expand the county tax base, provide new jobs for workers, and provide royalties for land owners who receive royalties on the gas soon to be produced and shipped to market in the new pipeline network.
Other large projects like phase two of the Elk Meadows subdivision north of Monticello and several new subdivisions in Blanding and others throughout the county are pouring millions of dollars into infrastructure, and providing many building sites for retirees and the new employees of the resurgent energy industries.
The overall economic forecast for the area in 2008 is as bullish as it has been in many years. It is an exciting time.