by Lisa Tome
It isn't everyday that the plans for a giraffe house land on your desk.
But for Jeff Thorpe, Plans Reviewer for the Cecil County Department of Permits and Inspections, the plans for Jimmie's House, a giraffe house for Plumpton Park Zoo, were treated like any project.
"It has a tall side and a conference and employee area," said Thorpe.
The building features a portion with 18-foot ceilings. It also has two floors and measures 5,106 square feet. "This (plan) is reviewed just as anything else is," he said.
The giraffe house isn't the only commercial type property that Thorpe is in the process of reviewing. An Auto Zone store is in the works for a pad site at the North East Station shopping center.
A longstanding restaurant, the former Lafayette Inn, between Rising Sun and Conowingo is due for a remodel. Walter and Brenda Hanks have applied for a permit to completely renovate the restaurant and bar. "We're in the middle of a spurt," said Thorpe.
There has also been progress in the construction of a second power plant, Wildcat at Old Dominion. That second plant could bring up to 600 people to work on site by late fall.
But while Thorpe has a break in what has been a sluggish time in the department, the fiscal year from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 won't soon be forgotten.
"It's probably the least amount (of permits) we've done total in 25 years," said Director of Cecil's Department of Permits and Inspections Patrick Conway. "I've been director for 25 years and I've never seen lower than this. But it hasn't decreased our workload."
Conway is speculating that the economy remaining sluggish and minimal job creation are major factors in Cecil.
"There are a couple thousand houses on the market and numerous foreclosures. When the economy was good and banks were lending a lot of money, people were buying stuff they maybe couldn't afford," Conway said.
He also said the new taxes in the state have had an impact. "We are overtaxed. Every time the legislative session meets, they come back with a new tax. The citizens of the state are taking the hit," he said. "Go to any shopping center in this county. You won't find one with every store occupied."