The third annual Citizen’s Planning Academy in Knightdale took residents on a quick look back at the town’s growth and gave residents a glimpse into what’s expected in the future.
This year, the town’s planning staff decided to do that by focusing on Knightdale’s Comprehensive Plan, a document that helps guide them when making decisions about development in the town.
“If you don’t know where you’re headed, you don’t know how to get there,” said Mayor Russell Killen before the planning staff took over.
Planning Director Chris Hills further explained why the Comprehensive Plan is an important document for the town to consider as it grows.
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“We’re confined (as a town),” he told the group of about 20 residents. “We get one chance to do it right.”
In an effort to make sure they had the right plans in place to “get it right,” the town has revised its Comprehensive Plan three times since the first plan was created in 1977.
The plan received a facelift in 1993 by town staff, in 2003 by an outside consultant and again in 2011 with input from residents, senior planner Jeff Triezenberg said.
In 2011, the plan also included two in-depth studies about the Old Town area and the Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan, which helps the town identify where infrastructure like sidewalks are needed.
In addition to the short history lesson, the town was able to provide some insight into where the town may go in the future.
Between 2010 and 2012, the town’s population grew 10.4 percent, the second-highest percentage increase in the Triangle region during that period, the planning department reported.
Last week, the department also released a new data sheet that showed the town’s population is estimated to be over 13,000 residents for the first time.
By 2035, the planning department estimates Knightdale will have 28,118 residents, a little more than double the town’s current population.
That projected number is slightly higher than Garner’s current population (at about 26,700) and about 120,000 less than Cary’s current population.
The 2035 estimate may seem like growth will slow down in Knightdale, but planning staff said the goal is to preserve what current residents say is the biggest draw of the town.
With easy access to Interstate 540, it’s easy for residents to feel like they’re part of the more urban Raleigh community but the open space still left in the town makes it seem further than 10 miles away from the state’s capital.
“We’re still, to this day, trying to keep this (town to country) balance,” Triezenberg said.
The Planning Academy will have its second and final session on Tuesday, Feb. 25. It will focus on information about how the town handles new development.