Source: Sherman Publications

Atlas, Brandon populations up, Groveland drops
Minority population inches up locally according to 2010 census

by David Fleet

April 06, 2011

Two out of three local townships have seen an increase in the number of residents in the past 10 years.

Population growth has occurred in Atlas and Brandon townships, while Groveland Township has seen a dip. The number of minorities including Asians, blacks and Hispanics, increased in all communities, according to the new 2010 U.S. Census data released last month, reflecting a slightly different world than a decade ago.

In Atlas Township, the population grew by 736 residents, swelling from 7,257 in 2000 to 7,993 in 2010.

And while the township’s population has grown by 10.1 percent, it has also become more diverse — though much more slowly.

“The vast majority of the growth came early in the decade,” said Rick Misek, Atlas Township Planning Commission chairperson. “The growth is the direct result of the housing boom—which includes the sub-prime interest rate, where everyone can get in a house. Within the decade, we had a boom in housing, plus a decline in jobs. That’s why the planning commission got involved in the 1990s and slowed down the boom, reducing the density by increasing the required lot size. We also carefully scrutinized the growth that impacted the wet lands. The growth we did get was sustainable.”

Misek said that while there are foreclosed homes in the township, there are a lot less than other communities.

“Take a look at some of the other communities and you’ll see roads to nowhere, building developments that have sewer and water installed and no new homes—they’re empty. The taxpayers paid for all that, everyone loses.”

Misek suggests the decline in population of the cities, plus those that left the state, equals the population growth in the suburbs.

Since 2000 the number of Asian, black and Hispanic has increased by 50 percent in Atlas Township. According to census data the Hispanic population grew from 78 in 2000 to 166 in 2010. Similarly, the Asian population increased from 37 in 2000 to 59 in 2010, while the black population went from 24 in 2000 to 53 in 2010.

Conversely, Groveland Township population slid from 6,150 in 2000 down to 5,476 in 2010. But like Atlas Township, the number of Asian, black and Hispanic residents has also increased since 2000. According to census data, the Hispanic population edged up from 103 in 2000 to 120 in 2010, and the black population increased from 52 in 2000 to 58 in 2010. Similarly, the Asian population jumped from 30 in 2000 to 49 in 2010.

Bob DePalma, Groveland Township supervisor, suggests the population decline of almost 10 percent was limited to the two mobile home communities.

“The mobile home tax fee has declined for the two mobile home communities,” said DePalma. “We are down at least 200 homes over the last decade. With about two and a half people occupying the home it’s about 500. In addition, the census was taken during the height of the depressed market.”

DePalma anticipates the township will lose 11 percent (about $43,000 per year) of the constitutional revenues

“Just another kick in the teeth,” he said. “Consider over the next 10 years until next census in 2020 that’s $433,000. It will end capital expenditures— it’s not at the critical mass stage yet, but close. On the bright side, recently a township home sold for the listed price—not a foreclosure. There is a glimmer of hope.”

Brandon Township has grown in both population and diversity in the past 10 years.

The 2010 census results show the township has 15,175 residents, compared to 14,765 in 2000, an increase of 410.

The vast majority of the community,14,565 residents, or 96 percent, identified themselves as white for the 2010 census, but of the 410 new residents, only 157, or 38 percent, are white. Minority populations grew substantially in the past 10 years, with the number of residents identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino nearly doubling from 235 to 464; the number of residents identifying themselves as black or African American more than doubling, to 127 from 59; and the number of Asians increasing almost 125 percent, from 53 to 131.

Township Clerk Jeannie McCreery said the racial makeup of the township is following national trends.

“This country itself will be even more integrated in a few years,” she said. “It’s changing dramatically and Brandon isn’t any different than any other community.”

Supervisor Kathy Thurman was pleased with the overall population increase in the township.

“I was glad to see our population didn’t decline overall, with all the vacancies,” said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. “We got hit with the tanking economy, which created quite a few foreclosures and therefore vacancies.”

According to the 2010 Census, the township has 414 vacant housing units, up from 278 vacant housing units in 2000. However, the total number of housing units in 2000 was just 5,290, and the township in 2010 has a total of 5,724, an increase of 434.

“I don’t think we should plan for any additional housing until we get the vacancies filled,” said Thurman. “I’m keeping my eye on Independence Township because they are looking at more commercial building and that will bring more jobs to the area and residents to our township.”