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Norwich, East Lyme, New London and Stonington led the way locally as housing permits surged statewide last year.
Final statistics from all 169 Connecticut towns released Thursday by the state Department of Economic and Community Development showed a 47 percent increase in new-housing approvals last year compared with 2011. The 4,669 permits issued last year was the highest number in four years.
"Southeastern Connecticut is already poised for recovery," said Nort Wheeler, president of Mystic River Building Co. and former president of the Builders Association of Eastern Connecticut.
The numbers bear him out. New London County towns issued 291 new-housing permits last year, more than a 25 percent increase from the numbers seen in 2011.
Town by town, the patterns were repeated. In Norwich, for instance, only nine permits were issued in 2011 while 46 won approval last year, making it the most active municipality in the region in terms of new housing.
The other most active municipalities saw less dramatic increases, led by East Lyme, which saw permits rise from 28 to 39. New London issued 32 permits last year compared with 28 a year earlier, while Stonington saw a slight bump from 23 to 27.
Driving the increase in new construction, according to Wheeler, is a feeling of renewed stability, based partly on a strong stock market. During a trip to Old Saybrook earlier this week, Wheeler said, "It seemed as though almost every house along the shore had a construction sign out front," and it wasn't just people recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
In the past few weeks, Wheeler added, new clients have been calling at a faster clip than he has seen for a while, and he has been referring to a "backlog of work" that he hadn't seen for several years.
East Lyme 39
New London 32
N. Stonington 3
Old Lyme 14
Old Saybrook 27
Source: Connecticut DECD