Franklin is Pa.'s 4th fastest-growing county

March 09, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
By Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin County was the fourth-fastest growing county in Pennsylvania with 15.7 percent population growth from 2000 to 2010, according to U.S census data released Wednesday.

Franklin County trailed only Forest, Pike and Monroe counties among Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Franklin County gained 20,305 people in the decade.

"When you're seeing that kind of population growth, that's pretty significant," Franklin County Commissioner Robert Thomas said.

Thomas, who took office in 1996, cited several things he feels contributed to the population growth. Among them were proximity to metropolitan areas, tax-free retirement pensions in Pennsylvania, and quality of life.

The 30 percent growth in Southampton Township, which is in northern Franklin County, likely came from people moving from the Harrisburg, Pa., area, Thomas said.

Antrim, Montgomery and Washington townships along the Mason-Dixon Line experienced an influx of people from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas, he said.

Thomas predicted the county's overall population will be more than 200,000 in 15 to 20 years.

The population in Washington Township increased from 11,559 to 14,009 between 2000 and 2010.

"That's a pretty incredible number," Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

The 2000 Census had an issue with Post Office boxes that was resolved for 2010, Christopher said.

"We only gained 500 people (in 2000), and we had over 800 housing units built. I think this Census is a corrective Census for the 20-year period," he said.

The slumped economy has stalled new home construction in Washington Township in the past three or four years, but Christopher said people are continuing to move into multi-family units. Townhouses filled in the Antietam Commons community off Welty Road and the Avalon community in Zullinger.

"The migration to the bigger houses in Washington Township in the early part of the decade has slowed," Christopher said.

Increased population for municipalities mean they are eligible for more gas tax revenue, which is used to pave roads. Thomas said the county continues to experience increased demand for services, particularly those for senior citizens and within the court system.

The Associated Press reported the number of Pennsylvania residents increased 3.4 percent, to just over 12.7 million. Still, the state will lose one of its 19 congressional seats because of the demographic changes.

Franklin County's Hispanic population nearly tripled between 2000 and 2010, with Census data reflecting a growth from 2,268 to 6,438. The AP reported the state's Hispanic population increased from about 395,000 to almost 720,000.

Fulton County

The population in neighboring Fulton County grew by a modest 4.1 percent to 14,845, according to the census data.

The Borough of McConnellsburg added 147 residents, a 13.7 percent increase.

The county's other big growers were Brush Creek Township (12.2 percent), Belfast Township (8 percent) and Licking Creek Township (11.2).

Wells Township saw its population drop from 529 to 477 (a 9.8 percent drop) and Taylor Township saw its population dip from 1,237 to 1,118.

Fulton County had a Hispanic population of 123 residents, according to the Census. Also, 11,414 of the county's residents were 18 and older.

Herald-Mail staff members Bill Kohler and Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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