St. Croix County develops growing pains
U.S. Census data shows that St. Croix County is the fastest growing area in Wisconsin. More than 21,000 people now call it home than in 2000. But that's left local governments rushing to keep up with infrastructure needs, and farmers concerned ab...
U.S. Census data shows that St. Croix County is the fastest growing area in Wisconsin. More than 21,000 people now call it home than in 2000.
But that's left local governments rushing to keep up with infrastructure needs, and farmers concerned about dwindling farmland.
St. Croix County's population has swelled by nearly 34-percent over the last decade. Senior County Planner Ellen Denzer says the vast majority of that growth is spillover from the Twin Cities. She says many of the new residents work in Minnesota metro areas and commute to a quieter and more rural setting. That means a healthy tax base but Denzer says the growth also brings challenges as well.
"Infrastructure is probably the single greatest one. In terms of keeping up in roads, keeping highways improved can be very expensive. There's also infrastructure that some of the local communities have dealt with in terms of sanitary sewer and that kind of thing."
And Denzer says school districts have struggled to keep up as well.
"We have new high schools in River Falls, Somerset, and New Richmond. We have new schools of one sort or another in Hudson and Baldwin. So, those are expensive and they add to the costs that are related to that growth."
That growth has some farmers concerned. Dale Wolf has been a bee keeper for 40 years and owns Wolf Honey Farms in Baldwin. He doesn't fault farmers for selling their land to developers because they usually give a better price but he says that means less land for agriculture.
"As you drive across the country and go over this hill where it should be all farming area, you go over the hill and here there's a big plot of houses sitting out there in the country. That's kind of shocking when you see that."
Ten out of 12 counties in Western Wisconsin populations increase. Neighboring Polk County saw a 18-percent jump and Pierce County wasn't far behind with an 11-percent increase.
Overall, Wisconsin's population grew by 6-percent.