Midway between the U.S. Census Bureau’s official headcounts of 2010 and 2020, Allegheny County has grown a tiny fraction — by about 7,111 people, or less than 1 percent — but some suburbs have added people at a much higher rate.
Census Bureau figures released last week estimating municipal populations as of July 1, 2015, showed 10 communities in the county have grown at least 5 percent since 2010, with each one gaining at least a small amount every year since then. In order of growth, starting with the highest, they are Ohio Township, Marshall, Collier, Pine, Findlay, South Fayette, Franklin Park, Jefferson Hills, Kennedy and Moon.
Most have one thing in common: They are on the western side of the county.
The municipalities growing most in the northwest — Ohio, Marshall, Pine and Franklin Park — are close to the similarly robust Cranberry area across the Butler County line. The communities south of there — Collier, Findlay, South Fayette, Kennedy and Moon — have the attraction of proximity to Pittsburgh International Airport, an asset both for employment and travel.
The one anomaly on the list is Jefferson Hills, due south of Pittsburgh, which has shown estimated growth of 7 percent since the 2010 census by gaining 741 people. Like some of the other growth communities, it has had large tracts of land available for housing development, with an atmosphere of peaceful living that has been attracting newcomers for years.
Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, Jefferson Hills grew by 10 percent while Allegheny County overall lost nearly 5 percent of its population. The borough’s growth has accelerated this decade, as large new developments including Hunters Fields, Chamberlin Ridge, Jefferson Estates and Jefferson Woodlands, keep adding housing.
“There’s a large amount of open space here, but it is developing nicely,” said Dave Montgomery, a councilman who is also chairman of the Jefferson Hills planning commission. “When we did our comprehensive plan in 2010, it was considered a desirable place to live because of the semi-rural atmosphere, where people are out of the city but not too far out.”
The estimated population of 6,098 in Ohio Township, the fastest-growing municipality in the county, is 28.2 percent higher than in 2010 and almost twice as many people as it had in 2000.
Township manager John L. Sullivan Jr. said there’s no doubt the township is growing, but he’s not sure if it’s at the rate the Census Bureau estimates. That’s because the estimates are based on new housing construction, and the developments in the township may have fewer people per household than the norm. The 241-unit Sewickley Ridge, for instance, is geared for adults 55 and older rather than families with children.
People want to live in Ohio Township in part, he said, because of the easy access to Interstates 79 and 279 and to Downtown and the airport.
“We’ve been developing heavy for 25 years, so it’s a pretty similar story,” said Mr. Sullivan, who has been township manager for three decades, when told of the new census estimates.
The only negative impact he identified from the growth relates to traffic congestion along Mount Nebo Road, which Mr. Sullivan said is slated by PennDOT for improvements in 2017.
Mr. Sullivan also said taxes are relatively low in the township. That and other points that he and Mr. Montgomery made about their municipalities’ assets were echoed by Sal Sirabella, manager of Collier.
Collier has seen steady growth since 1990, after a late 20th century period in which it lost population. It has gained 11.9 percent more residents since 2010 and has been adding an average of about 100 new homes a year, Mr. Sirabella said, which helps with building the tax base in order to keep millage rates where they’ve been for 30-plus years. Collier’s comprehensive plan also commits the township to preventing development on 40 percent of its land.
“We have a good appeal because we’re rural, we’re close to the city and airport, and our taxes are low and the commissioners are committed to keeping taxes where they are,” Mr. Sirabella said, adding that some new township recreational facilities and new schools planned in the Chartiers Valley School District are amenities that are expected to continue attracting newcomers.
Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org.