Housing permits in Clovis double from previous months

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Manuel Veloz, a landscaper with Fox’s Green Thumb Nursery of Clovis, puts metal edging in place Wednesay at a home under construction in the Raintree subdivision of northeast Clovis.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

New housing permits last month nearly doubled from the previous month in Clovis. Local leaders say it appears construction companies are trying to meet demand expected from additional personnel arriving at Cannon Air Force Base.

Permits pulled by local builders jumped from 11 in September to 20 in October.

A year ago, the city also experienced an increase over the same two months, but from 12 to 15 new home permits.

The latest jump follows several public speeches by Cannon Wing Commander Col. Stephen Clark, during which he cautioned the base is fast running out of affordable housing options for incoming personnel.

Clark also told the Clovis News Journal in an exclusive interview the Air Force could consider reassigning personnel to other U.S. base sites if adequate housing isn’t available here.

City administrators and elected officials said Wednesday their hands are relatively tied in trying to stimulate housing growth with financial incentives.

“If the city owned property that was developable, I believe there is a mechanism — but that’s the only way,” said City Commissioner Randall Crowder, who is also a past president of the New Mexico Home Builders Association.

“Our mayor is a very aggressive Realtor, so I can’t say that the city is just sitting still watching. The city is doing whatever it can to facilitate growth, but it would probably come in the arena of infrastucture,” Crowder said.

“If someone is going to develop and they need a sewer line or whatever, then the city would expedite the process. Anything that comes to city hall, we’re trying to get it in and get it right back out.”

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield is also the owner of the local Coldwell Banker real estate office. She said the city doesn’t have any particular program set up to entice the construction of new homes.

But Brumfield said the city is continually looking into options.

“As far as tax credits go, we’re trying to work with New Mexico Finance Authority to see what kind of programs they have,” Brumfield said. “But the city is doing everything they can to work with developers.”

Crowder and Brumfield both said an anti-donation law in New Mexico limits the kinds of incentives the city can offer private companies.

“There’s a state law that says the city cannot contribute to anyone really; anything that we spend money on, we have to get something comparable back for it,” said Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas.

On the agenda for the Clovis City Commission meeting tonight are several items relating to new homes and commercial construction will be presented.

One issue involves a rezoning designation for property near Prince and Llano Estacado for commercial development.

Two other housing development areas in Clovis are seeking expansion of the number of lots within their property to increase the amount of houses being built.