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Census shows population growth continues

Alex Doty • May 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Ottawa County continues to be a leader in growth in the state of Michigan.

The 2017 population estimates for townships, cities and villages released last week shows Allendale Township experienced the largest population growth rate for any municipality in Ottawa County (4.1 percent) from 2016 to 2017. It was followed by Jamestown (3.5 percent) and Grand Haven (3.3 percent) townships.

Grand Haven Township Manager Bill Cargo said he wasn’t surprised by the data released by the Census Bureau of the most-populated community in Northwest Ottawa County.

“The growth rate tracks with the township’s estimates,” he said.

According to 2017 population estimates, Grand Haven Township’s population is 16,846 — up from 16,305 the year prior. The township’s population is estimated to rise to 17,578 in 2020 and to just over 20,000 in 2030.

“That said, this growth is readily manageable, and any negative impacts associated with growth can be mitigated through the plans and the infrastructure investments that will continue to be monitored by the elected (Township) Board members,” Cargo noted.

Other local communities that saw growth from 2016 to 2017 include Spring Lake Village (1.7 percent), Crockery (1.2 percent) and Robinson (0.8 percent) townships, and Ferrysburg (0.2 percent). Communities that saw a decline include the city of Grand Haven (0.4 percent drop) and Spring Lake Township (0.1 percent drop).

Since 2010, however, all municipalities in the county have gained population. The largest population gains were seen in Allendale (25.8 percent), Jamestown (18.3 percent), Blendon (12.6 percent) and Crockery (12.2 percent) townships.

Ottawa also continues to be the fastest-growing county in Michigan for the same seven-year time period, and the eighth-most populous county in the state.

Estimates show that Ottawa County’s population was 286,383 last year. By 2020, the county’s population is estimated to be 295,399, and by 2030 the county’s population is expected to rise to 325,442.

“The strong economy, low millage, scenic beauty, excellent schools, safe neighborhoods coupled with the cultural centers of our larger neighbors make Ottawa County a very attractive location to live,” said Ottawa County spokeswoman Shannon Felgner.

Felgner noted that county commissioners always discuss the growth of the area during their annual strategic planning sessions, and recognize both the opportunities and challenges it provides.

“Projects like groundwater management are in place to ensure it remains fresh and abundant,” she said. “Other examples include our thriving parks department plus a farmland preservation initiative to protect our open spaces.”

Felgner noted that it is important that the county’s newest residents want to stay for a lifetime.

“We need to welcome everyone and embrace the diversity that growth brings, including the full range of human differences — whether it is race, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, ability and more,” she said.

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