Pinehurst Surpasses S.P. as County's Largest Town
Moore County Demographics
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The suspense has ended, but questions remain.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau shows Moore County's population at 88,247, an 18-percent increase from 2000, when it was 74,768.
As expected, the 2010 census moves the village of Pinehurst ahead of Southern Pines as the county's largest municipality.
With growth of almost 35 percent, Pinehurst officials are raising questions indicating that the new 13,124 figure may not include the Pinewild annexation and thus may be low by an estimated 1,400.
From a percentage standpoint, the most dramatic growth shows up in the smaller municipalities. Foxfire's population now stands at 902 residents, reflecting a 90.3 percent increase. Cameron's population grew by 88.74 percent to 285, and Aberdeen's rose to 6,350, an increase of 88.76 percent.
"Aberdeen is a beautiful place to live," said an elated Town Manager Bill Zell.
Unlike the growth in some municipalities, Aberdeen's growth between 2000 and 2010 is attributed almost entirely to residential growth, not annexation.
"We just had a lot of residential growth," Zell said. "People wanted to come here."
Zell said Aberdeen is not as expensive a place to live as some areas of the county, but the town offers vital amenities that make it attractive to people. He said Aberdeen gained only about 160 residents through annexation in 2009 and has felt little growth as a result of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and changes near Fort Bragg.
Instead, Aberdeen experienced "massive home building" between 2004 and 2007. Such residential developments as Hidden Valley, Glen Laurel, Light Horse Trace, Clearwater and Blues Crossing are just a few of the newer areas attracting residents needing single-family homes and apartments.
Zell and town Planning Director Kathy Liles had been expecting Aberdeen's population to climb well above 5,000 but Zell admits that they were pleasantly surprised to see the total at 6,350.
Aberdeen remains the third largest municipality in Moore County. In 2000, the town's population was 3,400.
Such growth is regarded as a good thing because the town will be in an advantageous position to gain revenue through sales tax collections and other funding distributions.
The new population figures reflect the prediction that Pinehurst would move ahead to become the county's largest municipality with the annexation of Pinewild. After a couple of years of protest and litigation, the Pinewild annexation became official in March 2010 in time to be included in the 2010 population census.
However, the Pinewild annexation raises questions about the accuracy of the latest figures.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said he is unsure that the Pinehurst population total includes Pinewild, which would have accounted for an estimated 1,400 additional residents. Information provided to the village planning department says the population figure was totaled as of January 2010, while the Pinewild annexation was not official until March 31.
But the Census Bureau promoted May 1 as the official Census Day. That's the date on which all households were asked to tally the number of residents.
Census forms were actually mailed to residents across the country early in March, and everyone was initially asked to return them by April 1. The Census Bureau dispatched personnel for follow-up interviews at households that had not returned their forms by May 1.
Wilkison said the village can easily account for the 34.9 percent through natural growth. He said an average of 230 houses a year were added in Pinehurst for about eight years between 2000 and 2010. If each house accommodates at least two residents, the total would climb to 3,680, a figure which exceeds the increase cited in the new census figures without the estimated 1,400 Pinewild residents.
Three of Moore County's 11 municipalities experienced a drop in population. Taylortown lost 17.49 percent, dropping from 875 to 722. Robbins, hard hit by economic woes, lost 8.2 percent, the population falling from 1,195 to 1,097. And Vass, hampered by an inadequate sewage treatment plant, saw its population fall from 750 to 720, or 4 percent.
Everyone else gained population.
Southern Pines, historically the largest town, grew by 12.97 percent from 10,918 to 12,334. The village of Whispering Pines grew 40.1 percent from 2,090 to 2,928. Pinebluff's population climbed 20.56 percent to 1,337 from 1,109, and Carthage, the county seat, grew 17.04 percent from 1,884 to 2,205.
For the first time, Seven Lakes is specified in the population census, with a population of 4,888. It is the largest residential development in Moore County and is larger than several municipalities. Although at least two groups are exploring incorporation for the development, the initiative has yet to get off the ground.
The 2010 census figures list the county's growth close behind the state's growth of 18.5 percent. North Carolina's population grew from 8 million to more than 9.5 million.
Moore County Manager Cary McSwain said he has not had time for a thorough analysis of the new population figures. He says growth is welcome because it increases the opportunity for federal and state grants and other advantages.
"We'll be looking at all the figures," McSwain said.
The U.S. Constitution requires a population census to be conducted every 10 years. The original purpose, still in effect, is redistricting of states for apportionment in the Congress and for redistricting within states.
North Carolina leaders have indicated that they do not expect to gain a member of Congress this time. In the previous two censuses North Carolina has added one U.S. representative each time, but it appears unlikely that growth will be sufficient for another addition this time.
The N.C. General Assembly, now in session, is expected to tackle redistricting within a few weeks. How redistricting will affect Moore County will not be known until the legislature adopts new district lines.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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