LAUREL – For the better part of the last century, Laurel has been a quiet little town outside of Washington D.C. But with two new major housing developments currently under construction things are changing fast. The Hawthorne Development is being built by the current railroad station and another development in the Howard County section of […]
LAUREL – For the better part of the last century, Laurel has been a quiet little town outside of Washington D.C. But with two new major housing developments currently under construction things are changing fast.
The Hawthorne Development is being built by the current railroad station and another development in the Howard County section of Laurel. Between the two and some other smaller developments, Laurel has close to 3,000 new housing units that are currently under construction or approved for construction.
In 2010, the U.S. Census measured Laurel’s population at 25,115 residents. Since then it has increased at a slow and expected pace. The population increased to 25,897 in 2013, and sat at 26,160 in 2014 according to annual estimates from the American Fact Finder, which is the census’ operating arm in off years.
That trend of stable growth will change over the next five years as Laurel could add nearly 6,000 residents if the new households average just two residents per unit. Currently Laurel is averaging 2.36 residents per household, which would mean adding 7,000 new residents if the average holds.
City Councilman Ed Ricks, who is spearheading the development projects from the city side, said Laurel is ready to add residents and will make the appropriate additions to city services, such as more police officers, fire rescue services, and garbage collection among other things.
“We have to look at all the things that we have to provide to those particular people in the way services and trash and public works,” Ricks said.
While most of the units will be rental, many will be available to potential homeowners for purchase.
But this is no small task, as Laurel could be looking at a potential population increase of 20 percent or more in just five years or less. Ricks said many of the developments have started selling or leasing units and have already sold out.
What this increase does not include is the Konterra Town Center development, which is not located but in unincorporated Prince George’s County nearby. This large development will offer roughly 4,500 new residential units and over five million-square-feet of commercial space. According to the Konterra website, the development is also expected to add about 12,000 jobs to the area.
While the Konterra development will rely heavily on Prince George’s County for services such as police, fire and emergency transportation, it will undoubtedly have an impact on Laurel resources when those services become overloaded. Even though some of those working in the development may choose to live there as well, many will live in the nearby cities which Laurel is the closest. It will likely lead to continued development of housing units in Laurel and more population increases.
Ricks said it is the job of the city council to maintain responsible growth that will not out-pace city services. Earlier this month Mayor Craig Moe vetoed a city ordinance to build 180 apartment units in place of the vacant shops at the Laurel Shopping Center.
But Ricks says the most important thing is people are starting to recognize that Laurel is a great place to live with great access to the nearby cities.
“People are seeing what Laurel brings to the table and I think they like it. I think they are going to continue to like it. They’re going to bring a lot of things to the city and we the city council have to step up to the plate and make sure that we’re on board with what we’re developing and the services that we render,” Ricks said.