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Spurred by the construction of town houses and structures that house men of the cloth, as well as cloth itself, construction in the Town of Hamburg last year was outpaced only by construction during two other years.

The town issued 1,696 building permits in 1999, for an estimated construction value of more than $47.9 million.

Kurt Allen, supervisor of building inspectors, said expansions at the Hamburg Wesleyan Church, SS. Cyril and Methody Macedonian Orthodox Church and St. Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church, as well as the Jo-Ann Fabrics store on McKinley Parkway, contributed to last year's upswing.

"We set a record for permit issuance (last year)," Allen said. "The only two years we had more construction occurring were in the late '80s, with McKinley Mall, and in 1996, when we had Wal-Mart, K mart, Georgia Pacific and Norfolk Southern."

Record construction occurred in 1996, with an estimated value of more than $50.8 million.

Last year, the town issued permits for 38 town houses for an estimated cost of more than $4.1 million. That's compared to 26 town house permits for more than $2.2 million the previous year.

Also issued were 135 permits for single-family homes, with an estimated cost of more than $16.7 million. Last year the town saw 139 single-family home-building permits issued for an estimated cost of more than $15 million.

The total number of permits issued in 1998 was 1,545 for more than $33.7 million.

"We did a real upswing in '99. A year ago there was virtually nothing on the planning agenda. Typically, in late October things slow down. We didn't really see a slowdown until Christmas."

Allen expects another banner year for commercial construction, particularly along the McKinley corridor.

"This year we're going to be busy," he predicted. "Benderson (Development) is going to continue to develop McKinley Commons."

While the town issued a record number of permits, there was an additional upswing in revenue from fees to $337,977 because of an increase in the fees, enacted last February, Allen said. He said the fees generated through the building inspection office nearly cover the cost of running the department.

Though the town investigated a record number of complaints in 1998, the number of complaints dropped to about half, at about 500, last year.

"We completely revised our approach on complaints," Allen said. "We try to work directly with the complainant and the (offender), and it requires a lot more thoroughness and sensitivity."

The town issued 179 permits for decks, 49 permits for in-ground pools and 109 permits for above-ground pools last year.

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