Census confirms Pa. population gains

March 16, 2001

Census confirms Pa. population gains

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A 7 percent increase in Franklin County's population in the 1990s came as no surprise to planners who said they were projecting that kind of growth.

"It's what we expected," said Phil Tarquino, director of planning for the county. "We have been tracking growth and were projecting a population of 130,000.

According to the unadjusted census count just released, Franklin County's population went from 121,082 in 1990 to 129,313 in 2000, a gain of 6.8 percent.

Tarquino, along with Mike Ross, director of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said the growth is occurring in the townships along the Interstate 81 corridor - Antrim, Guilford, Greene and Southampton - and surrounding municipalities.


Growth also occurs in areas where public water and sewer lines exist, the officials said.

"That's where we want the development to go," said County Commissioner Bob Thomas.

"The trend (in population growth) should continue," Thomas said. "It shouldn't come as a surprise. Just look at all the new housing around the county."

Thomas said the most important thing the county can do is plan properly. He cited the new Grindstone Hill Road connector that will link Pa. 16 and U.S. 11 west and south of the Borough of Greencastle in Antrim Township.

"That's an example of good planning," Thomas said. "Industrial development will go there rather than on Pa. 16."

Thomas also said the county should continue to look at its comprehensive master plan, which was updated two years ago.

"It shouldn't just sit on the shelf," he said. "We should grow with it."

"Our primary challenge is not whether we create growth, but whether we can manage it," Ross said. "The census confirms that the Cumberland Valley is growing."

Officials in Washington Township said they are not sure the census takers counted every head there.

Jerry Zeigler, who directs planning in the township, believes the counters missed several hundred residents. The unadjusted results show Washington Township grew by 4 percent, from 11,119 residents in 1990 to 11,559.

Zeigler said the number should be closer to 11,800 to 12,000.

"There were 800 dwelling units built during the decade and the census said the population only grew by about 400 people. It doesn't make sense," he said.

Census numbers are used to redraw Congressional and state election districts and to determine distribution of government funding.

Franklin County townships and boroughs showing the biggest gain include:

  • Antrim Township - from 10,107 to 12,504, a 23.7 percent increase.
  • Hamilton Township - from 7,745 to 8,949, a 15.6 percent increase.
  • Southampton Township - from 5,484 to 6,138, an 11.9 percent increase.
  • Guilford Township - from 11,893 to 13,100, a 10.2 percent increase.

Shippensburg borough's population increased from 1,003 to 1,119, an 11.6 percent increase.

Municipalities that dropped population include:

  • Letterkenny Township - from 2,251 to 2,074, a decline of 7.9 percent.
  • Mont Alto borough - from 1,395 to 1,357, a decline of 2.7 percent.
  • Mercersburg borough - from 1,640 to 1,540, a decline of 6.1 percent.

Neighboring Fulton County saw a 3.1 percent population increase, from 13,837 in 1990 to 14,261 in 2000.

The biggest gains in that county were reported by Belfast Township - from 1,208 to 1,341, an increase of 11 percent; Dublin Township - from 1,146 to 1,277, an 11.4 percent increase; and Brush Creek Township - from 643 to 730, an increase of 13.5 percent.

Fulton County's biggest decline was reported in Ayr township, which went from 2,167 to 1,982, a decline of 8.5 percent.

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