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Wake Forest Draws Up Vision for Big, Controlled Growth

Through town meetings, residents and officials in Wake Forest are coming up with goals to handle the area's increased growth.

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Wake County's population will reach the 1 million in six years, and Wake Forest will see its share of that growth. Officials and residents began to draw up big plans to deal with that growth at a town meeting Thursday night.

Town officials and planning consultant Glenn Harbeck, based in Wilmington, have held a series of town meetings to develop goals for the town's growth. More than 200 residents attended the first meeting in April and voiced nearly 1,000 ideas and concerns.

"Now, it's time to look back and seen what's happened in the last 10 years and look forward to see, well, what do we want to see happen over the next 10, 20 years?" Chip Russel, Wake Forest's planning director, said.

A steering committee looked for common themes and released 15 vision statements on Thursday. Speakers asked for the public to follow up by giving them ideas on how to make the goals a reality.

Among the goals were: growth that pays its own way, public safety, affordable housing, quality neighborhoods, keeping small-town appeal and creating neighborhood schools.

"These vision statements depict a clear picture of where the Town of Wake Forest would like to be in the year 2025 (plan horizon year)," read the draft statement released in May.

Wake Forest last updated its community plan more than 10 years ago, Russell said, and the town grew by around 118 percent through the 1990s. That growth continued into the new century, with the town's population increasing by 60 percent in five years.

In August, Forbes Magazine ranked Wake Forest as no. 20 among the country's fastest-growing suburbs between 2000 and 2006.

Wake Forest's downtown looks much the same as it did 50 years ago, with quaint shops and a small-town appeal. However, all around the town center, new homes, developments and big-name restaurants and stores have moved in.

Andy Ammons of Ammons Development Group created Heritage Wake Forest northeast of town, while Holding Village features the apartments, homes, retail and offices on a 250-acre former dairy farm near downtown.

Patrons and employees of Shorty's, a downtown institution grilling up wieners since 1916, said they expect residents will continue to take growth in stride.

"People who have been coming here for so long and love the hot dogs and hamburgers, they are going to keep coming," said worker Nick Pearce.


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