While commercial growth in Garner continues to grow at a far more rapid rate than anyone in Garner expected – primarily because of Cabela’s – the population growth did not see as much growth as some would think.
Garner grew some last year, according to the new 2015 census estimates released Thursday, but at a slower rate than the rest of Wake County.
The population in Garner grew just under 1 percent. That was the lowest growth of all municipalities in Wake County. Its population is now estimated at 28,053.
“I think yes, nobody likes being near the bottom, whatever negative connotation that brings, but at the same time, it’s a matter of what kind of growth,” council member Buck Kennedy said. “We changed some things in our development fees to encourage growth, but we’re trying to encourage growth that is self supporting, instead of housing that is below self supporting.”
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“It’s always a moving target, but I think everybody on the council would like to see quality housing period,” he added. “Quality housing, quality schools, quality growth.”
But for some Garner residents, slower growth – as long as it’s growing – might not be a bad thing. At recent board meetings, residents fighting growth near their neighborhoods, have said Garner is growing too fast. Many have said they moved to Garner because it was a small town with not much traffic.
“I’d say rather than no growth, they don’t want to lose the community feeling of a smaller town,” Kennedy said. “And as long as the people can feel a community feeling and see the action, I don’t expect anybody to come in the Town Hall and say we’re for no growth or slow growth. I think that’s a very minority position among the population in my opinion.”
Growth is inevitable in a booming area such as Wake County. Research Triangle Park has changed the landscape of things.
And Garner could see a boom after the southern loop of N.C. 540 is completed. Garner got its wish after N.C. DOT chose the Orange Route, which will pass just south of Garner. It would make the drive to Research Triangle Park a lot shorter. But that is most likely five years down the road.
There have been multiple efforts to increase the residential growth in Garner, including changing the water allocation fees and exploring extending its ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) out into the unincorporated areas of the county.
Kennedy said that, at recent meeting, 16 potential developers with mid- to high-end developments, were there to see the council change its water and sewer allocation fees.
“That says that Garner is getting back on the map,” he said.
Since 2010, Garner has grown by 8.4 percent. The population then was 25,887. While that is still one of the lowest growth rates in Wake County, it’s a fairly good rate compared to North Carolina, which has seen half of its cities and towns lose population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the 552 North Carolina communities counted by the Census Bureau, about 41 percent lost population last year.
Of the 12 municipalities in Wake County, Garner is the sixth largest.
Eight of the 25 fast-growing municipalities in North Carolina last year were in the Triangle. Those municipalities were Rolesville, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Morrisville, Zebulon, Wake Forest, Holly Springs and Apex.
While still the smallest, Rolesville continues to be the Triangle’s fastest growing municipality, growing 65 percent since 2010.
Growth Rates in Wake County since 2010
Apex: 20.7 percent
Cary: 17 percent
Fuquay-Varina: 31.4 percent
Garner: 8.4 percent
Holly Springs: 26 percent
Knightdale : 23.7 percent
Morrisville: 26.7 percent
Raleigh: 11 percent
Rolesville: 64.8 percent
Wake Forest: 25.9 percent
Wendell: 6.8 percent
Zebulon: 11.5 percent