On Thursday Mayor Rick Graham and City Administrator Victor Lay gave their State of the City address at a city Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The presentation focused on construction and growth– but also on moderating that growth to allow infrastructure and roads to keep up.
Lay and Graham talked about the many ongoing projects, such as the Buckner Lane mixed-used development and the coming Chick-Fil-A.
“2017 was a very busy and productive year but only a preview of what you are going to see in 2018,” Graham said about commercial development, city roads projects and other city infrastructure work.
But, in a nod to citizens’ concern about traffic, Lay and Graham said they wanted to reduce the amount of construction.
They used home building permits as a measure of growth– and the city’s goal, Graham said, is to reduce the number of permits issued in 2018 to 500. In 2017, 804 were issued, about 100 more than in 2016. Each year since 2009, when there were 192, the number of permits issued each year has increased.
“I don’t know that 804 is really sustainable for us,’ Lay said. ‘We can manage and sustain with 500 a year.”
But even still, he said, by 2030 at that rate population will be pushing 55,000 to 60,000.
“It is coming, and we are pretty excited about it,” Lay said.
It will be expensive, Graham said, to build the infrastructure to keep up with growth. But, as was written on stress balls given out to each attendee underneath a yellow hard hat, “It’s worth it.”
Part of the price will be paid for by itself. Sales tax taken in by the city, Lay pointed out, increases along with the population.