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Local

Malta officials hope first permit in years a start

MALTA – The village issued its first permit for a new home in nine years in November, and officials are hopeful it is a sign that growth will begin once again.

The home, a three-bedroom, two-story house, will be built in the 150-acre Prairie Springs subdivision. The property off South Malta Road west of the village, which includes a 22-acre lake and 7-acre park, is Malta’s best hope for growth in the future. 

“It’s been nine years since we’ve been able to issue a building permit, so I guess you could say baby steps would be ideal,” Malta Village President Bob Iversen said. “If we could get 10 permits from now until the end of [2017], that would be achievable.”

Development was derailed in Prairie Springs when the housing market collapsed. Eagle Homes, the developer that built about 70 houses there, lost the subdivision to foreclosure. In 2010, Pete Harkness of Sterling, a businessman who grew up in Malta and graduated from DeKalb High School, bought the property from a bank.

Since then, Harkness Lake has been expanded, and partially completed homes on the property have been finished and sold. But last month was the first time someone has bought a lot and begun building a home on it since Eagle owned the property.

Lots in the subdivision range in size from 7,200 to 8,500 square feet. Homes must be at least 1,600 square feet, village Comptroller Debbie Lang said.

Prairie Springs was Harkness’ idea to begin with. He took plans for a subdivision around a lake to Malta village officials around 2000, and eventually they were approved.

“Everybody told me not to do it because the village hadn’t grown in 100 years and it would never happen, but when someone tells me not to do something, that’s usually when I do it,” Harkness said.

Harkness, whose family ran the old Needles and Cones Christmas Tree Farm in Malta, said there are 69 lots with municipal water and sewer access ready for sale right now: some with lake views, others with park views, others on the outskirts. There is no developer with exclusive rights to build homes in Prairie Springs, allowing buyers flexibility in who builds the home and how it looks.

The people already living there enjoy living in a country atmosphere with easy access DeKalb, Interstate 88 and other amenities.

“If you talk to the people located out there, they’re very happy with that subdivision. It’s very family friendly,” Harkness said. “Now that we’ve broken ground with the first lot, that’s the momentum that we needed to continue to sell lots and continue to build that subdivision out.”

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