HANCOCK COUNTY — When Sheila Roberts settled on McCordsville as her home six years ago, she was thrilled to find an affordable house in a quiet community.
Much has changed since she moved in; McCordsville is now one of the fastest-growing cities in the area, a trend Roberts says has made it an even better place to live.
More families are moving to Hancock County, and the majority are landing along the western edge. Population growth across Hancock County is up 3 percent, which amounts to approximately 2,500 more residents than those recorded in the 2010 U.S. Census.
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The majority of growth centers on McCordsville, which saw population swell by 20 percent between 2010 and 2015 — the most of any community countywide.
And with that growth has come new business, retail and dining options. For Roberts and her family of four, that’s good news.
“McCordsville is booming, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon,” she said. “I love all the activity.”
The 20 percent hike amounts to about 2,000 more people living in McCordsville — a town of approximately 6,000 — than reported during the 2010 census. And this swell is just the beginning, according to local officials’ projections.
McCordsville building and planning director Ryan Crum estimates the local population will reach 11,500 by 2020 as development continues to spread into the community from Indianapolis and Fishers.
Elsewhere in the county, growth in Greenfield and New Palestine outpaced other communities, registering about 3.5 percent and 4.4 percent higher populations than in 2010, respectively.
The impact of growth throughout the county is felt by schools, public safety and other government offices.
Mt. Vernon School Corp., which serves residents in Greenfield, Cumberland and McCordsville, hired a private architecture firm last year to assess the corporation’s options to accommodate growing enrollment.
In 2015, the district welcomed an additional 120-plus students compared with the previous year, and school officials plan to use findings from the study, which is expected to be complete in the fall, to assess how best to make room, whether by constructing a new facility or shuffling students among existing facilities.
The district’s high school housed about 1,512 students last school year, slightly above its capacity of 1,500, officials have said.
McCordsville town council member Max Meise said people are choosing to live in the area because of its proximity to Indianapolis and Fishers.
While McCordsville residents are within reach of large shopping centers and urban areas, they still get to appreciate the peace and quiet that small-town life affords, Meise said.
“It’s close to the amenities of big cities, but it’s still somewhat rural,” he said.
When communities grow at rapid rates, it requires close collaboration among all stakeholders, including town council members and town employees but also members of the business community, Meise said. That ensures developments have access to local services, such as utilities, when they need it, he said.
Adequate emergency response is important too, officials said, and department leaders have an eye on future growth.
The town’s future Meijer store, which is set to open in 2017 at the intersection of Broadway and Carroll Road, has spurred security concerns for town officials. Big box stores bring an influx of police runs for shoplifters and minor traffic accidents, and McCordsville Police Chief Harold Rodgers has said he plans to add two police officers in 2017, which will take the department from 12 to 14 officers.
Neighborhoods in the area, particularly Bay Creek East and Brookside subdivisions, are beginning to fill up, Meise said.
In 2015, the town’s building and planning department issued 147 residential building permits, a steady increase over the previous year’s total of 132 and 108 in 2013.
Meise expects to see more requests from developers to build new subdivisions in coming months.
Skip Kuker, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said most communities in Hancock County are attractive to residents because of their easy access to Interstate 70. That thoroughfare provides residents with a quick commute to Indianapolis and also Carmel and Fishers, Kuker said.
That level of access makes communities in the area, particularly McCordsville, which offers new homes near $100,000, appealing to first-time home buyers, who often can’t afford rates in desirable neighborhoods in Indianapolis, Kuker said.
Hancock County: 3.2 percent
Cumberland: 3 percent
Fortville: 1.2 percent
Greenfield: 3.7 percent
McCordsville: 20 percent
New Palestine: 4.4 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau