Chelsea continues to exceed expectations

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013


There is no question in my mind that Shelby County is one of the best places to live, not only in the state, but possibly in the country.

After covering local news for the past two years, I’ve seen that it’s not a perfect place, not by a long shot. It is, however, full of go-getters and strong leadership determined to keep Shelby County at the top of the list.

Last week, however, I especially was impressed after an interview with the Chelsea mayor. I can always hear the pride in Mayor Earl Niven’s voice whenever he mentions the city of Chelsea, but that pride was evident once again as he showed numbers and charts of how well his city is doing.

Back in 2005, when the real estate frenzy was at its height and everything was sunny, the city of Chelsea issued 650 building permits. Numbers were also high in 2006, with 330 permits issued, and 2007 with 232 issued.

In 2008, as we all well know, the bottom fell out. In terms of building new homes, Niven only saw 76 permits issued, followed by a dismal year in 2009 of only 61 new homes permitted. 2010 and 2011 were even worse.

During a Chelsea City Council work session last week, Niven voiced an encouraging improvement. The year 2012 saw 170 building permits issued in the city of Chelsea.

While it’s nowhere near the heyday of 2005, having the permits more than double in a year is certainly something to celebrate.

The building permits represent not only additional income for the city, but also additional sales tax from building materials purchased to construct the homes and business license fees from the contractors.

When I asked Niven his thoughts on the upturn, he told me people are feeling confident.

“I think the economy is beginning to stay positive to where people are gaining confidence,” he said.

Niven said that Chelsea has the “greatest opportunity in Shelby County” to prosper as the economy turns due to its location on a relatively undeveloped section of U.S. 280.

With plenty of “empty spaces” on U.S. 280 for business to thrive and families moving to Chelsea in droves, I’d say the city is set for success.

Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by email at