Steady as she grows
Census Bureau says city home to 5,170
Since moving into his Timber Trails home in October 2003, Paul Sapienza has seen that subdivision and the adjacent Timber Lakes subdivision nearly fill with new homes.
Reflecting on his new neighbors that account for much of the city's population growth in recent years, the Kansas City, Kan., high school principal figures they found the same thing he was looking for when he moved to De Soto from Overland Park.
"I looked for a long time," he said. "I've always kind of strayed away from the maddening crowd.
"The ones I talked to started out in Overland Park and places like that. I think it's a trade off -- you get a little bit more rural, but at the same time you have to work a little bit harder to shop."
New residents of the two western De Soto subdivisions drove the city's population increases in recent years. Figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as of July 1, 2005, to be 5,170 -- an increase of 114 from July 1, 2004.
Putting the numbers through his desk calculator, De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle --who moved into a Timber Trails home last month -- noted that was a 2.3 percent growth rate. It is a rate of growth in line with what De Soto has seen this decade.
The growth rate is strong by statewide standards, but modest when compared to those reported in Johnson County's growing cities. But the modest rate adds up as it fills subdivisions. The estimate represents an increase of 611 from that listed on the last official census in 2000. At that rate, De Soto's population would be near 5,800 by the 2010 Census, Guilfoyle noted.
But Guilfoyle said one key factor could upset that steady progression -- completion early next year of the new sewer plant.
Spring Hill, which straddles the Johnson/Miami county line, provides an example of just how sewers can stimulate growth. The city's July 1, 2005, estimated population of 4,494 is 1,767 greater than its official 2000 number.
And while the percentage growth might not be as impressive because it was starting with a larger base, the city of Shawnee grew to 57,628, adding nearly 10,000 residents since 2000.
De Soto USD 232 planning director Jack Deyoe said most of that growth, and 90 percent of that city's new single-family homes, was occurring in the western Shawnee area served by the De Soto district. The completion of a sewer plant in the late 1990s at the head of the Mill Creek watershed opened the area to suburban residential development.
It is the growth of Shawnee in the past few years, which saw the city add about 2,000 people a year, that is driving the need for the district's $105.7 million school bond, which will be on the November ballot, he said.
The families moving to western Shawnee, and now western Lenexa with the extension of sewer lines to that area, are young, Deyoe said. In many cases, the oldest child in the family is too young to have spent a day in the classroom, he said.
That explains the record kindergarten enrollment the district anticipates this fall of 530 students, he said. Should no new families move into the district, there are more pre-school children than the district can eventually house, he said.
As for De Soto, Deyoe doesn't expect the new sewer to start having a dramatic effect until after 2008. Some developer or group of developers will have to install a sewer main from the new plant in the West Bottoms to the city's future growth area near Edgerton Road and beyond before the pace of residential development changes, he said.
De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson agreed, but added, "When they build it, they will come."
The city is counting on that. Fees charged for new sewer connections are to pay off the $9 million plant, and the debt-retirement schedule -- which is back loaded to take advantage future growth -- assumes there will eventually be 70 new housing units per year.
But even that formula assumes there will be about 40 new homes a year to help with debt retirement in the new sewer plant's early years. Much of that is likely to be in the 215-home Arbor Ridge subdivision, where the first 10 or so homes of the subdivision's 43-home first phase are now in various stages of completion.
Anderson and Deyoe's assessment also is shared by Axiom Realty owner Dan Gulley. Growth this year and next will be much the same as that in the recent past but will see a spike in 2008.
That is more than a guess on Gulley's part. He is handling sales in the Arbor Ridge subdivision, where construction has started on the first 14 homes of the subdivision's 43-home first phase.
The developers would soon submit the final plat for the subdivision's second phase so construction could start on its 48 homes next summer, Gulley said. The schedule is meant to dovetail with the completion of the new sewer plant.
Construction on the new sewer was going well and is on schedule for completion in late February 2007, city engineer Mike Brungardt said.
But Brungardt noted not all of De Soto's growth depended on the sewer. There is a good deal of septic development on the east side and Anderson is the managing partner in a plan to build the 24-home last phase of the Oak Country subdivision.
Census estimates indicate the same pattern is occurring on De Soto's doorstep. Lexington Township added 41 new residents from July 2004 to July 2005 and grew by 220 residents since the 2000 Census.
The figures show Johnson County reached a new population milestone. With an estimated population increase of 9,670, the Census Bureau estimates the county's populated exceeded 500,000 for the first time with estimated total of 506,562.