Location drives population growth north of York

Location drives population growth north of York

Location drives population growth north of York

In the past 10 years, three municipalities have grown from because of their proximity to I-83.
Updated: 03/13/2011 07:15:42 AM EDT

York, PA – If you’ve ever given up a weekend to house hunting or spoken at length with a real estate agent, chances are good you’ve heard the mantra, “location, location, location.”Agents and others in the housing market might chant the saying while explaining why a piece of land carries a price tag much higher than seems reasonable.

Last week, one township manager said it while citing reasons for his municipality’s double-digit growth.

“Manchester Township is the only municipality where Interstate-83 and Route 30 intersect,” said David A. Raver. “That’s key to attracting growth. We benefited from the geography of our location.”

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Manchester Township climbed 43 percent, from 12,700 people to 18,161, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And, the population of the two municipalities to the immediate north of Manchester Township, East Manchester and Conewago townships, grew by 43 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

“We are between Harrisburg and York,” said Dave Gentzler, secretary/treasurer of East Manchester Township. “We are centrally located and have access to both places. When you live in this township, you can go to a Harrisburg Senators or a York Revolution game. Take your pick.”

While a central location may have prompted some people to relocate to the township, the promise of jobs likely spurred additional growth.

For example, in 2004, International Truck and Engine Corp. moved its parts distribution center in Baltimore to a 390,000-square-foot building in East Manchester Township’s Brickyard Industrial Park.

The company employs roughly 100 workers, said spokesman Roy Wiley.

“We moved there because we would be more centrally located to our customers,” he said. “It’s been a good location for us. It did well for us.”

During the first several years of the decade, many York County municipalities grew thanks to the influx of Maryland natives in search of affordable real estate, said Marty Sowa, president of the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties.

“Much of the development that was happening here was done by builders from Maryland,” he said.

Also, many builders marketed their York County homes in Maryland, he said.

And, in an effort to boost population, municipalities such as Manchester Township and Conewago Township have installed public water and sewer system throughout much of their areas.

“Almost the entire township is served by public water and sewer,” Raver said. “That’s what’s important to developers since fewer people want to have to deal with wells and (on-site septic) systems.”

Lou Anne Bostic, manager of Conewago Township, said the growth within her municipality occurred for similar reasons as it did in Manchester Township.

“The large part of residential development happened in the public water and sewer district,” she said.

In an effort to address its growing population, Manchester Township has boosted its services. For example, the municipality recently bought more police coverage from Northern York County Regional Police, Raver said.

While a rise in population often leads a municipality to spend more of its budget on services, a residential jump could bring financial benefits.

Manchester Township expects to “see some benefit” from its increased population when it’s time to receive highway aid from the state’s department of transportation, Raver said. The state takes into account a municipality’s population growth when it doles out grants and other aid, he said.

However, Manchester Township will likely not see similar growth this decade, Raver said.

“One reason is because the amount of available land for development is declining,” he said. “There is only so much land in Manchester Township.”

Within the past few years, the general slowdown in the construction industry has meant that fewer developments have been marketed to Maryland residents.

“In the last few years, the buyers have been more localized,” Sowa said. “People from York County are either upsizing or downsizing.”

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