WCAR luncheon panel discusses population growth
By Skip Anderson, Managing Editor
A seven-member panel discussed the continuing residential expansion within Williamson County May 21, a boom that helped keep its communities largely insulated from the Great Recession.
“Between 2000 and 2010, we had the fastest-growing county in Tennessee,” said County Mayor Rogers Anderson. “We had 45 percent growth.”
Anderson emphasized that virtually all of recent growth, residential and commercial, has taken place in the county’s rural areas.
“Less than one percent of [the growth between 2000 and 2010] was in our unincorporated areas,” he said. “It is our intention to continue on with this model.”
Other panelists at the Williamson County Association Realtors luncheon included Mayor of Franklin Dr. Ken Moore, Williamson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney; Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham; City Manager of Brentwood Kirk Bednar; Mindy Tate, executive director of Franklin Tomorrow; and Jeremiah Pyron, interim director of the Williamson County Office of Economic Development.
Moore said his challenge as mayor of Franklin is to manage the population growth that is forecasted to grow from its current 60,000 to 90,000 by the year 2020.
“We have to plan for growth,” he said. “My challenge as a manager is to [create a community that fosters] work life, living and raising a family.”
Looking beyond Franklin, county Mayor Anderson said the midstate’s population could expand by an additional 1 million people by 2040. Middle Tennessee currently has about 1.73 million residents.
Anderson said one of the county’s looming problems will be transportation.
“We love our cars in Williamson County,” Anderson said. “We love our cars in Williamson County,” he repeated.
Anderson pitched the need for residents to embrace current existing infrastructure such as carpool services and mass transit buses to alleviate traffic congestion in the near term.
“It’s a great way to get to work for a very reasonable price,” he said.
Franklin Tomorrow’s Tate supported Anderson’s assertions. “There’s only so much pavement you can put on the ground,” she said.
Looney, head of county schools, said the strained budget brought about by sustained population growth offers no excuse for lowering standards.
“We could become the only community in America where the high school diploma is just a gateway [to additional education],” he said, to the only impromptu applause of the afternoon.
Bednar said that the city of Brentwood will be “built out” by 2020.
“We’ll be static in terms of growth,” he said.
Graham said Spring Hill will be “built out” by “2040 or 2030,” he said.
Posted on: 5/21/2013