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Illinois losing population, but Kendall County continues to grow

County has added 12,000 over the past 8 years, census data shows

Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel talks during an April 3 board meeting at the Kendall County Office Building in Yorkville.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel talks during an April 3 board meeting at the Kendall County Office Building in Yorkville.

As a residential exodus from Illinois continues, Kendall County is seeing the most population growth percentage-wise in the last eight years compared to other Illinois counties.

According to recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois lost about 100,000 residents overall between July 2010 and July 2018. As residents leave, so do the property, income and sales taxes they generate, putting a greater burden on the residents who remain. Reversing the growing trend of Illinois resident outmigration may be the key to preserving the state’s future.

Despite the state-wide population decrease, Kendall County saw a population increase of 12,538, or nearly 11 percent, from July 2010 to July 2018, according to census data estimates. Since July 2014, Kendall County's population increased by 8,321 people, the data said.

Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel said the Kendall County Board voted, 7-0, to approve a resolution to create a census 2020 county commission during the board's May 7 meeting. County Board member Audra Hendrix left the meeting early and wasn't part of the vote; members Tony Giles and Elizabeth Flowers were absent from the meeting.

Koeppel said the purpose of the commission of county and municipality representatives is to plan and conduct local educational initiatives, publicity and promotional activities to increase community awareness and participation in the 2020 census. He said having a better understanding of who is moving into Kendall County and why, along with having a better grasp of general population increases for federal and state grant purposes, would be interesting to know so they have a better idea of what's going on.

"We want to work together with all city and villages in Kendall County to make sure everybody is counted as best as we can," Koeppel said.

Although some areas have gained population, the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area – composed of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties – has experienced overall population decline since July 2014, according to census estimates. Statewide population totals also have been on the decline since July 2013, according to census data, although Illinois remains the most populous state in the Midwest with about 12.7 million people.

While demographics and rationale are still kind of a question mark, Koeppel said he knows most people moving into the county are going into Yorkville and Oswego. There were 260 single and multi-family homes permitted for construction in Yorkville in 2018, he said.

Bart Olson said that's starting to get in the realm of the pre-Great Recession numbers the city has seen with that kind of development. For added context, there were 1,000 permits for single and multi-family homes issued by the city in 2006, he said.

As a result of this kind of growth, Olson said, the city has had to add police officers, expand recreational programming, hire building inspectors and planners and rearrange how the city does its planning as a whole.

“That’s all things growing communities get to deal with, which is a good problem to have,” Olson said.

Jay Hoover, building and zoning manager for the Village of Oswego, said there were 439 single and multi-family units under permit in Oswego in 2018, which is a result of a few big apartment complex projects coming down the pike. He said that's the largest that the permitted residential unit number has been since about 2008.

“Either way you look at it, it’s a lot of new units and new tenants coming to Oswego,” Hoover said.

Andy Nicoletti, chief assessment officer for Kendall County, said the new construction is serving to fill up previously platted but vacant lots in county municipalities, including in the City of Plano.

"They're trying to fill out what they've got," Nicoletti said. "So we'll see how that goes."

Rich Young, community development director for the Village of Montgomery, said there have been 300 homes, mostly single-family and town homes, added from 2010 to 2018. He said that has resulted in a population increase of about 900.

Young said he doesn't think the village has been significantly affected by the population increase, other than slightly more commercial development as a result. He said the current estimated population of the village is 19,845 as of Jan. 1, when overall it has been planned for 30,000 people.

"We haven’t grown as much as our neighboring towns," Young said.

Yorkville School District 115 Superintendent Tim Shimp said there were 5,343 students enrolled for the 2010-2011 school year. This year, he said, the school district is at 6,199 – just under 1,000 more children within eight years.

Shimp said the district just finished a population growth demographic study and the results of that study will be presented during the school board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. June 24. In the meantime, he said, the district has to figure out whether they'll remain a community with one middle school with the number of students expected to reach 1,000 soon and one high school with 2,000 to 3,000 students, which could mean only so many kids allowed to participate in school sports or musicals, for example.

“The bigger you get, the less opportunities exist for kids,” Shimp said.

Most recently, the Kendall County Board approved a settlement agreement for Lennar Homes to develop 366 homes in the Raintree Village subdivision, which hasn't seen development in about a decade. Although the affect on nearby schools was already factored in when the project was first conceived about 20 years ago, Shimp said Lennar pledged donations to the Yorkville Educational Foundation as part of the recent deal and he believes that donation amount is $200 per home built.

Shimp said growth is coming regardless and school officials will continue to look at the space available to the district overall, especially how much more space may be needed in the next three to five years. He said they also will continue to maintain good relationships with potential builders in Yorkville and to keep a close eye on new residential development, at what parts of town that new development will happen and which schools will be most affected.

"I think anything we can do to build those partnerships ... is obviously going to be a win for our kids and a win for the community," Shimp said.

• Northwest Herald reporter Drew Zimmerman contributed to this report.

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