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Census shows people keep moving into Johnson County

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Johnson County remains one of the fastest-growing counties in central Indiana, which is bringing more places to shop and a better market to sell your home.

The county’s population is 145,535, according to the 2013 estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. That compares with 139,654 reported in the 2010 Census.

That 4.2 percent increase over the past three years puts a little more stress on local police to handle emergency calls and schools to find class space for students, and local streets may wear down quicker with added traffic. But with more people coming into the county, homes are becoming easier to sell and new retail stores are opening.

“We have been growing like this for the last decade, and I think it’s no coincidence,” said Christian Maslowski, Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer. “This is a destination for where people want to live, work and play. I think folks continually recognize that, and people want to be here.”

There are 58,016 homes in Johnson County, 2.4 percent more than in the 2010 Census. And those homes are selling more quickly than in the past.

Keller Williams Realty in Greenwood has sold about $81 million in homes so far this year, an increase of about 24 percent from the same point last year. The average home takes about 70 days to sell in that office, compared with 100 to

115 days a few years ago, agent Dennis O’Brien said.

“I think the job opportunities are opening up, and the environment has a big play in it,” O’Brien said. “The school systems are increasing in their star (rankings), and a lot of people are finding Johnson County a good place to raise a family.”

Johnson County’s population is increasing faster than the number of homes being built. This allows homeowners to sell their homes more quickly. Also, more people are selling their first home and upgrading, O’Brien said.

The increase in residents leads to more retail opportunities, such as a pair of organic-based grocery stores that will open later this year. Residents in the county have long clamored for those types of stores, and the area’s consistently growing population is a drawing factor for new businesses. Fresh Thyme is building an organic, produce-driven grocery store near County Line Road and U.S. 31, while Earth Fare will open a similar store across the street later this year.

Franklin has also seen an increase in unique, eclectic gift shops, a likely byproduct of an increasing population, according to Dana Monson, Johnson County Development Corp. director of business development.

More homes were built in Boone, Hendricks and Marion Counties than in Johnson County from 2010 to 2013, according to Census data. Boone County now has 24,372 homes, an increase of 7.1 percent from 2010, the largest increase in central Indiana.

All eight central Indiana counties experienced a population increase, from Shelby County’s 0.66 percent gain to Hamilton County’s 8.1 percent increase to 296,693 residents. The populations of Boone, Hamilton and Hendricks counties all grew at a quicker rate than Johnson County.

Maslowski expects the demographics of Johnson County’s population to show two trends: a more diverse population in the northern part of the county and an aging population.

For example, a large Punjabi population is found in a few Greenwood neighborhoods. And several new senior-living or assisted-living facilities have been built in recent years, Maslowski said.

The increasing population of Johnson County could put an extra burden on schools and police. Clark-Pleasant, for example, has 60 percent more students than it did a decade ago. The school built a new middle school and spent

$3 million to turn the old middle school into a freshman center.

With more residents, more calls are coming into police departments, Greenwood assistant chief Matt Fillenwarth said. The police department received 27,797 calls in 2013 and 27,196 in 2012. In comparison, the department never received more than 25,089 in any of the preceding three years.

“There always seems to be a strain on the department,” Fillenwarth said. “It never feels like we have enough help.”

The department can struggle to keep the same number of officers patrolling the streets when one goes on vacation or is sick, and that won’t be any easier if calls continue to increase, Fillenwarth said.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has a little less area to cover since annexations by Bargersville and Greenwood in recent years, but the calls coming in have not dropped significantly. The sheriff’s office received 16,909 calls in 2013, compared with 17,437 in 2012.

Sheriff Doug Cox has not noticed less of a workload in his department over the past year.

“I have seen no reason to reduce the size of the department,” Cox said.

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