“I was told there would be no math”

One of the fundamental pieces of information needed to make the best decisions for an area, municipality, or village is the rate of population growth. Population growth affects everything from housing to recreation to transportation needs.

So what is the population growth of the village?

If you look at the Village of Flat Rock’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), you might get an incorrect picture. Adopted by the village council in 2013, the CLUP used actual population numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census but relied on Henderson County planning department estimates for its 2020 and 2035 projections. The CLUP is used by the village council to make decisions on the direction of the village in areas of transportation, recreation, land use, etc. It’s vital that the underlying data, such as population figures, be as accurate as possible.

How well have the population projections in the CLUP held up?

Not well at all.

Let’s look at the numbers in the CLUP:

  • 3,114 – 2010 population of the Village of Flat Rock (according to the 2010 U.S. Census)
  • 4,189 – 2020 estimated population of the Village (according to the Henderson County planning department)
  • 1,075 – estimated population increase by 2020 (that’s a growth rate of 34.5% over ten years, or 3.45% a year)

But is this data the best to use?

We don’t think so. The North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) determines annual population estimates for North Carolina municipalities based on extensive data, using complex mathematical computer models and federal, state, and local government sources. Instead of relying on the six-year-old Henderson County estimate, we should use the OSBM’s 2016 estimate, their most recently released numbers.

Let’s look at the population numbers again using OSBM’s estimate:

  • 3,114 – 2010 population of the Village of Flat Rock (according to the 2010 U.S. Census)
  • 3,316 – July 2016 estimated population of the Village (according to the OSBM)
  • 202 – estimated population increase by 2016 (growth rate of 6.5% over six years, or 1.08% per year). This number is consistent with NCDOT’s estimate of 1.5% annual traffic growth on N. Highland Lake Road. 

If the village population continues to increase at that same rate of 1.08% to 2020, it will have added 337 people total (growth rate of 10.8% over ten years) for a population of  3,451, not 4,189. That’s a significant difference. 

The CLUP is relying on numbers that over-estimate by almost 220% the village’s population growth.

And that’s not the way to arrive at the best decisions for the village.

2 thoughts on ““I was told there would be no math”

Add yours

  1. Sounds like that document the Village uses to make decisions that influence our lives needs a revision! What other wrong info do they rely on?

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  2. It’s disappointing to learn that the Village Council has been satisfied to rely on only the county planning department for the critical population projections that drive so many of its decisions about our resource use. It begs the question: What are the best practices of other NC jurisdictions in this regard? In this era of tight budgets and increasing demands, it would be great if the Village of Flat Rock was on the leading edge of this sort of thing rather than being, apparently, behind the times. Our small size combined with all manner of technology should result in this kind of innovation. This group just showed the way.

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