Report shows growth in city, county

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s top planner gave Columbia City as well as county officials an overview this week on his department’s progress and accomplishments during 2010.David Sewell, executive director of the Whitley County Building and Planning Department, presented his office’s annual report to the county’s Board of Commissioners Tuesday afternoon and appeared later in the day at the Columbia City Common Council meeting Tuesday night.“We’ve made some progress and I feel like we’re starting to turn around a little bit — things are starting to pick up,” said Sewell to the three-man panel of commissioners.Sewell told both panels his department issued 617 total building permits in the county with an estimated construction value of more than $64 million.The department also collected more than $66,000 in fees from throughout the county.“This is a good report, Dave,” said Commissioner Don Amber. “It tells us where we’re going and where we’re not.”According to Sewell, the Joint Planning and Building Department was formed in 1987, combining planning departments of both the county and of Columbia City.Sewell told the city council Tuesday night that while Columbia City and Whitley County were both part of the original agreement that formed the joint office, his department also helps to serve communities such as South Whitley, Churubusco, Larwill and outlying communities in the county.“I felt, all in all, like it (2010) was a very successful year and hopefully we’re on the upswing from the lean years,” said Sewell to the city officials.“There was definitely growth that we’re seeing and Columbia City is leading in that category.”According to Sewell, Columbia City and Whitley County approval was being sought, and from there the report will be distributed to the other communities in the county.Both panels approved the report.