Permits up in Chester County

Chester County stood out as the lone bright spot for the local housing market in 2007.

Chester was the only county in the region to see an increase in the number of single-family housing permits. That figure rose from 79 in 2006 to 92 last year, an increase of a 16.5 percent.

The number of mobile-home permits also jumped from 65 to 83, up 27.7 percent from the previous year.

Often frustrated by what the latest census numbers show is a shrinking population -- a factor that hurt the county's ability to raise taxes last year -- Chester County officials finally have some evidence of growth. And growth is what local officials have long said will come the county's way.

"We're very excited about it," said Karlisa Parker, the county's economic development director. "We're really excited about any growth that is positive."

Parker attributed the increase in housing permits to the county's changing reputation from a no man's land to a community where people can create a "little piece of heaven" in the countryside, but still stay close to more urban areas.

"We're not in the middle of nowhere," she said. "You have easy access to metropolitan areas in Columbia and Charlotte from Chester. ... We used to just be viewed as just being too far to come. ... People are finally seeing that we're not."