Fastest growing town in NC prepares for population to triple by 2045

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Leland is one of the fastest growing towns in North Carolina, almost doubling its population since 2010, potentially tripling it by 2045. But is it ready to accommodate so many people and the effects that could follow?

According to the Leland 2045 plan in the works, more than 6,700 new houses will have to be built by 2045 to adapt to Leland’s growth. And that’s not all they’re doing.

The Town of Leland is looking to grow into the Cape Fear’s version of a Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina, and they need your input to shape how that will happen.

“That’s what makes this plan really cool,” said planning manager Ashli Barefoot, “is that we get to look at all of those things and figure out what direction does the public want us to go?”

And since public comment opened, residents like Nicole Evans have voiced their opinions on what they would like to see added.

“We need a Lowes,” Evans said. “Like a Lowes Home Improvement. We’re always doing projects at the house and going all the way into Wilmington for that is a hassle. A movie theater I think would be really nice to have over here. There are definitely times when, if it were more convenient, we would probably just go see a movie.”

Barefoot couldn’t speak on exactly what businesses will come to the area, but she did say one of their focuses will be to fill Leland’s Innovation Park and Gateway District, the future downtown Leland.

“We’re putting a big emphasis on high tech jobs and high paying jobs,” she said, “but we also want to continue seeing the service based industry (grow) because we know that’s what the public wants to see also.”

The traffic problems often come with rapid growth. That’s why Barefoot said the Leland 2045 plan puts an emphasis on a walkable town and interconnectivity, meaning more connected backroads and sidewalks.

Barefoot explained, “The more opportunities that people have to get from Point A to Point B the less traffic we take onto existing roads.”

Another project goal: protecting existing parks and hopefully adding more green space throughout Leland.

“We want to provide more opportunities for people to be healthy, to get out and interact with each other, and just provide opportunities for recreation.”

Leland is continuing to accept public comment through October 15. Town Council will vote on the Leland 2045 plan in November.

In response to the Leland 2045 plan, Mayor Brenda Bozeman responded in part, “New residents bring fresh perspectives and can help diversify our population demographics, which is beneficial to everyone. We’re excited about the opportunities that our growth has provided us and look forward to serving existing and new residents of Leland.”

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