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Eastern Wake County Hopes To Keep Small-Town Charm

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County is growing by leaps and bounds. Between 2000 and 2003, the western side of the county grew anywhere from 12 percent to 34 percent. In contrast, the eastern communities have grown at a much slower pace. Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon have added between 7 percent and 9 percent more residents. Many of the eastern towns are trying to figure out that if they do change, can they still stay the same?

"I think the secret is finally out. Folks are coming this way and buying up the land," Zebulon Town Manager Rick Hardin said.

The landscape to the east is changing. Towns such as Knightdale and Zebulon are growing. Hardin said 1,200 lots for new homes were approved in the past eight months alone.

"We're very excited about the growth. It's good for business," said Nelle Carroll, co-owner of Whitley Galleries.

Carroll's family-owned furniture store is nearly as old as the town itself, but she is ready for the change. It is a change the town said must come one step at a time.

"We're looking at a water and sewer merger in two years with Raleigh," Hardin said. "We've tried to approve subdivisions in phases."

Those on the outside looking in say that towns like Zebulon have to have a plan and follow it. The advice comes from places such as Apex that have already been through this.

"If you do those things and stick to it religiously every month when it's rezoning time or when site plans come up, you'll be successful," Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said.

Radford said Apex has added 9,000 people to its streets in just a few years while maintaining a small-town feel. The completion of the Knightdale bypass will make some of the eastern communities a convenient commute into Raleigh. Apex is celebrating a brand-new superstore and the construction of a brand-new movie theater.


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