New home construction has steadily dropped in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2016 at 12:00 am

The number of new houses built annually in Orleans County has been declining, with only 18 built in 2015 compared to 76 in 2003, according to county officials.

The 18 new homes last year is the fewest since 2003, except for the 16 in 2010, when the community and country were in the grip of an economic slowdown.

Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, a former Kendall town assessor, shared the data during on building permits for new houses in Orleans County. DeRoller received the information from the Orleans County Planning Department. The information was discussed during Friday’s meeting with the board of directors for the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Year New Homes
2003 76
2004 83
2005 49
2006 39
2007 33
2008 29
2009 23
2010 16
2011 20
2012 23
2013 21
2014 27
2015 18

Source: OC Planning Department

DeRoller said the housing starts have slowed in the county, partly because of the big reductions in the workforce at Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. Those companies used to employ many Orleans residents.

“We took a real hit and haven’t recovered from that,” DeRoller said about the downsizings at some of Rochester’s major manufacturers.

DeRoller said the county still has lots of open affordable land that could be used for new housing. The local governments also should work on getting vacant homes occupied, he said.

DeRoller said he worries with the county’s falling population and students enrollments at local schools.

“We need to stabilize our student enrollments,” he said.

Some of the houses have been vacant for several years and have fallen into significant disrepair. Those homes will take big investments to make attractive to residents. Those deteriorating houses also are dragging down neighborhoods, EDA board members.

“It’s not very inviting in many of our communities,” said Gabrielle Barone, vice president of business development for the EDA. She gives company CEOs tours of the local communities, and they often note the rough shape of the housing stock.

Some communities have stepped up property maintenance enforcement, and Paul Hendal, EDA board chairman, said that often comes with resistance from property owners.

“The pushback is unbelievable,” he said.

DeRoller said he expects the STAMP site just outside Orleans in the Town of Alabama to bring new residents looking to build homes and also revive existing houses. However, DeRoller said the appearance of the community needs to be improved to draw some of the STAMP workers as residents. It is an issue to be worked on for officials at all levels of the government, he said.