County planning adds staff to keep pace with building activity

Greg Verret, Community Development Director

There’s more than 300 apartment units being built in Philomath. In Monroe, the biggest subdivision in more than 20 years is going in. A new school is under construction in North Albany. Adair Village has new subdivisions underway that could add several hundred homes to that area. It’s hard to go anywhere in Benton County without seeing signs of growth and development.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Benton County Community Development Director Greg Verret.

To keep pace with all this activity, Benton County has hired additional building inspection staff and a new shared planner position to serve the needs of the county, Adair Village, Monroe and Philomath.

The shared planner position is uncommon, Verret said, but the circumstances presented an opportunity to increase coordination and provide planning staff to the three smaller cities.

“We see this as a way to tie the communities and the county more closely together and provide a high level of professional planning service in a responsive way to meet the community’s needs,” Verret said.

Having additional planning staff promotes economic development by ensuring a timely and smooth permitting process for building. In construction, time is money, so delays or inefficiency can be costly.

“If we’re coordinating and have staff to respond, we can get permits issued,” Verret said.

It also enables better service to the public. Planners answer questions from property owners and the public about allowable uses. They review land use applications to ensure compliance with zoning requirements. They provide information to the planning commission and city councils at public hearings and assist cities with long-range planning.

Building inspectors review building plans to ensure that construction complies with the building code standards for health and safety. Once construction is underway, inspectors periodically inspect buildings to ensure work is done to the plan and code.

Another benefit to planning services is better livability.

“Having coordinated planning and a high level of professionalism in the planning staff that’s working with these cities will enable thoughtful planning and review of land use applications to preserve livability,” Verret said.

Conversations about growth and development often focus on Corvallis. But the Board of Commissioners is committed to more engagement with the smaller cities and rural parts of the county.

“Planning is one way to help with that,” Verret said.


Building Permit Revenue by Fiscal Year*

2005-2008 cumulative average $480,071
2009-2010 $341,656
2010-2011 $529,153
2011-2012 $451,996
2012-2013 data unavailable
2013-2014 $425,845
2014-2015 $519,326
2015-2016 $504,382
2016-2017 $541,982
2017-2018 $907,848

*July 1 through June 30