- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

BALTIMORE — Calvert County was the fastest-growing county in Maryland and one of the fastest-growing counties in the country between 2000 and 2004, according to figures released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Calvert County’s population grew 16 percent, or by 11,911 residents, to 86,474, making it one of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the country, the Census Bureau reported.

Loudoun County, Va., which experienced a population increase of 41 percent to 239,156, was the fastest-growing county nationwide between April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2004, according to the census figures.

Like many other counties surrounding the District, Calvert County, in Southern Maryland between the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River, traditionally has been home to farmers and watermen. However, suburbanites who commute daily to jobs in the District increasingly are calling the county home.

Greg Bowen, the county’s director of planning and zoning, said Calvert County probably won’t hold the title for long because of steps taken to control growth that had strained resources, particularly in the 1990s, when the county was building a school per year to keep pace.

“We’re looking not to have that dubious distinction any longer,” Mr. Bowen said.

He said it “takes awhile to slow the train down,” but the number of building permits being issued has dropped because of changes in density and school capacity requirements.

Owings resident Robin Gottlieb, a member of Calvert Neighbors for Sensible Growth, said the problem is most apparent when “people sit in traffic.”

“It hits them right between the eyes; they can’t avoid the fact that growth is here and affecting them,” said Miss Gottlieb, who moved to the county in 1997 from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

“If your schools are overcrowded and your roads are clogged, for all the beautiful homes that are put here, no one is going to want to live here,” she said.

Flagler County, Fla., located along the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, was the nation’s fastest-growing county between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004, experiencing a 10.1 percent population increase, according to the census figures.

Between 2003 and 2004, Calvert and Cecil counties led the state, growing 2.8 percent each, while Maryland as a whole grew eight-tenths of a percent.

Montgomery County, which borders the District, had the largest overall gain statewide between 2000 and 2004, growing 5.5 percent to 921,690 residents, an increase of 48,349 residents. Neighboring Prince George’s County’s population grew 5.2 percent to 842,967.

Meanwhile, the city of Baltimore and Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were among the 100 largest counties nationwide, according to the census figures.

Baltimore city was one of only two jurisdictions in the state to decrease in population, shrinking 2.3 percent to 636,251, a drop of 14,903. Allegany County in far Western Maryland lost residents, dropping 1.4 percent to 73,871.

Other counties with double-digit percentage increases were Carroll, 10.1; Cecil, 11.1; Charles, 12.7; Frederick, 11.5; Queen Anne’s, 11.1; and St. Mary’s, 10.1.

The state’s total population increased 4.9 percent during the period to slightly more than 5.5 million, the bureau reported.

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