Clayton continues to lead county in growth

ndunn@newsobserver.comJune 3, 2014 

Clayton’s population climbed 9.2 percent from 2010 to 2013, a growth rate that continues to lead Johnston County towns, according to U.S. Census data released recently.

As of July 1, 2013, the town had an estimated 17,700 people, about 1,500 more than during the 2010 census. While Clayton grew faster than other Johnston towns in that perod, it ranked ninth among other Triangle municipalities.

“Growing, per say, is not our goal; our goal is quality of life,” said Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs. “To the extent that people want to move here, that’s an expression that we provide good quality of life to people.”

Fueled by expanding pharmaceutical companies and Raleigh’s continued metropolitan growth, Clayton’s population surged from nearly 7,000 residents in 2000 to more than 16,000 in 2010. That spawned residential building, including new subdivisions and the expansion of old neighborhoods. The trend was similar in Knightdale, Cary, Apex, Wake Forest and other towns near Raleigh.

“We are not growing in isolation,” Biggs said. “We are part of a larger wave.”

The U.S. Census Bureau releases its population estimates annually, along with data on the number of housing units, which in Johnston County grew from 67,755 units in 2010 to 68,775 in 2013. That growth rate of 1.5 percent ranked 15th highest in the state.

Among other Johnston towns, Archer Lodge grew an estimated 5.3 percent from 2010 to 2013, adding about 226 residents. The town, incorporated in 2009, has an estimated population of 4,516.

Mayor Michael Gordon said Archer Lodge, like Clayton, has an in-migration of residents who work in Raleigh or Research Triangle Park. He said that trend started years ago, when hard-presed farms began selling their lands to residential developers.

“The people who like living out there don’t mind driving 25 minutes or 30 minutes to work,” Gordon said. “They like coming home and driving past pastures and tobacco fields.”

But with more residents comes more demand for town services. With only one full-time employee, Archer Lodge has increased the amount of money it pays outside groups to carry out services like recreation.

“We already see the need is there now,” Gordon said. “That’s why the town is going to have to do something and find some property to develop for some recreation space.”

The latest Census estimates also show that Smithfield’s population grew from 11,011 in 2010 to 11,560 in 2013, or about 5 percent. Town Manager Paul Sabiston said that’s a positive sign, since the town’s population decreased slightly from 2000 to 2010.

“You have to have a healthy amount of growth, and you want to have the right kind of growth too,” Sabiston said, adding that the town is working with other groups to increase homeownership in Smithfield.

The data show that Selma’s growth rate was slower at 2.4 percent, as the population increased from 6,089 in 2010 to 6,237 in 2013. Benson’s population grew from 3,322 in 2010 to 3,484 in 2013, or about 4.9 percent, according to the estimates.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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