- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Lancaster County is the 17th largest county in the state, according to revised Census estimates.
Lancaster County appealed the 2006 estimated county population, which was 63,628 and showed a .9 percent growth rate. The county building and zoning department and assessor's office put in a lot of work to prove the estimate wrong, said Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis.
"The estimated growth was just impossible," Willis said.
Lancaster County has seen a major influx of newcomers in the last several years, most of whom are moving to Indian Land.
The county received a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau in November that says the population is now estimated at 71,723 residents. Willis said that gave Lancaster County a jump over Darlington, Greenwood, Laurens and Oconee counties in population.
"This also gave us a 16.9 percent growth rate last year, which made us the fastest-growing county in the state," Willis said.
"Of course, please keep in mind, we really didn't grow that much in one year, as the 2005 estimate was also terribly low," Willis said. "If that trend keeps up, we'll have 75,000 people by the 2010 Census."
Correct population numbers are important for counties because the numbers determine grant eligibility and aid to subdivision funds, Willis said.
According to the annual Housing Report, Lancaster County has 27,556 total housing units. Nearly 21 percent, or 5,771, are north of S.C. 5. About 11 percent, or 2,997, are in the city of Lancaster and 2.7 percent, or 739, are in the town of Kershaw.
In the area of new construction for calendar years 2005 and 2006, Lancaster County had a 530-unit, or almost 95 percent increase, in houses; a 106-unit increase in townhouses; and a 5-unit, or 13.5 percent decrease in new mobile homes.
But will the growth trend continue?
Despite those rosy figures, Lancaster County has seen a 35 percent decrease in residential building permits between the second and third quarters of this year, according to Catawba Regional Council of Governments. The number dropped from 413 permits during the second quarter to 265 during the third.
Commercial permits went from zero in the second quarter to 11 during the third quarter.
There are numerous ways the housing downturn could affect Lancaster County, said state Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-District 45, a developer himself.
Even with the dramatic reduction in property values associated with the exodus of Springs Global, Lancaster County took in a record amount of money last year, Mulvaney said, with a lot of that related to building permit fees and other revenues generated by new construction.
"That could easily dry up this year," he said. "I am concerned about whether all of the commercial development that has recently been approved will be built as originally planned.
"So far, the commercial development market has remained strong. I worry about whether that will remain in the face of the residential slowdown."
Mulvaney said he hopes the county will save its money for a "rainy day," unlike the state Legislature, which spent its $1.7 billion surplus last year.
"We knew there was going to be a rainy day, but too many folks didn't seem to care," Mulvaney said.
"I don't want the county to make that same mistake."
Contact Jenny Hartley
at 283-1151 or