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Building permits in Sheridan County are increasing as population continues to grow

An empty dirt field covered in snow, with construction materials
Hugh Cook
Wyoming Public Media
Plots of land on Sheridan's west side in wait to be developed February 2022 to meet the demand for housing as the city's population grows. Sheridan County's population is also growing, with more building permits and developments being permitted in unincorporated areas.

The number of building permits issued by the City of Sheridan and Sheridan County continue to increase as the population of both the city and county tick up. Much of the growth has occurred since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained steady since then.

“We had 85 residential permits, [and] 69 of them were new construction,” said Wade Sanner, Community Development Director for the City of Sheridan. “That was 51 single family homes and 18 for two-to-four-unit construction.”

This number represents the total that has been issued since the start of the year and equates to four new major subdivisions and 10 minor ones totaling 189 housing units, he said.

“We're on track, basically, [though] we're a little bit high [to meet current projections],” he added.

A study that was commissioned by a third party indicated that approximately 1,000 housing units will be needed to meet the demand over the next decade. Much of the growth in city limits is focused on the north and west sides of Sheridan, Sanner said.

Most of the homes are aimed primarily at the middle and upper income levels though there are lots being sold that will be for manufactured homes. We still need more duplexes and more apartments. We'll see where that goes in the next few years.”

With the growth rate holding steady, there is optimism that things will be manageable looking towards the future.

“Sheridan's good, it has a good steady rate of growth,” he said. “We're not where our infrastructure can't handle it, but we're not at a decline either. It could be a little bit more, but it also can be a little bit less. So, I'm content with what it is.”

The situation in Sheridan County also points to steady growth in the past few years, with higher numbers of permits being offered since the onset of COVID.

“By far our largest area of growth is in the Powder Horn [and] Big Horn area,” said Mark Reid, County Planner for Sheridan County. “That's planned unit development Powder Horn Ranch that was originally established back in the late 90s and early 2000s, and has undergone several additions over time And lately there have been bringing in additional subdivision plots to expand that particular area.”

In addition to this area, growth is also occurring in and near Ranchester, Story, and in the Big Goose Valley west of Sheridan. But much of the county outside of those areas has minimal if any growth.

Reid said the current growth patterns are similar to the ones experienced in 2007 and 2008 with a boom fueled by coal bed methane. The succeeding years saw much smaller growth, in part due to the impacts of the late 2000s financial crisis but the current trend of growth dates back to around 2018. A possible recession may slow construction though it’s uncertain what may happen, he said.

A majority of the permits have been issued for housing that’s being constructed or is planned as part of a subdivision or other development. Housing that’s being constructed independently is also happening, though at lower rates. County statistics indicate that there were 112 permits issued in 2018, 123 in 2019, 146 in 2020, 188 in 2021, and approximately 190 so far this year. Around a dozen planned developments have either been scheduled for construction or are currently pending with the county.

Updated: July 21, 2022 at 6:47 PM MDT
Official documents from Sheridan County have been added with the building permit data, which includes new figures accurate as of Jul. 18. The number of building permits has now risen to 190, which has been changed from 180 in the original version. Only the data from Jul. 5 and 11 was included with the original version as it was the most up to date when it was initially published.
Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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