An inventory of undeveloped land shows Davis County's population could reach 380,000 by the year 2030, and its growth will be concentrated in the north end.
The survey of available land was done by the county's planning department, which became concerned a few months ago whether population projections for the county completed by the state and the Wasatch Front Regional Council were accurate.County planner Wilf Sommerkorn started on a long-range strategic plan for the county but halted work on it to more accurately assess the county's population projections.
Predictions that the county's population will reach 300,000 by the year 2010, up from its current 180,000 total, did not seem to be supported by preliminary surveys of developable land, Sommerkorn said.
The planners used aerial photographs, supplemented by field checks, to inventory property that could be developed, he said. Land classified as unuseable because of slopes or wetlands classification was eliminated and a percentage of the open land was deleted for commercial and other development.
Most of the land in the south part of the county has either been developed or is not developable for residential use becuase it is designated as commercial/industrial or wetlands, Sommerkorn said.
The result is that growth will concentrate in the county's north end, and the population is projected to reach 280,000 by the year 2010 and eventually 380,000 by 2030, when it reaches buildout.
Buildout is the term used when all the developable, or buildable, land in an area has been utilized.
Sommerkorn said there are a number of assumptions built into the projections, assumptions that could change.
One assumption used is that the current growth rate of 2 percent per year, or 50,000 persons a decade, will continue. But Sommerkorn warned that as the county fills up, it could become a less desirable place to live and the growth rate could taper off.
It also assumes that the estimated 6,000 acres of wetlands identified in the survey will not be developed. But if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees wetlands, changes its policy and allows development, it could add another 40,000 residents, Sommerkorn said.
Sommerkorn said some cities, such as Bountiful and Sunset, have almost reached buildout and their populations will not grow much in the future.
But other cities, with vast stretches of vacant or rural land on their boundaries, could mushroom.
Syracuse, with an estimated current population of 4,727, is ranked 11th in population in the county. But its 4,236 acres of developable land could eventually give it a population of 35,100, Sommerkorn estimated, ranking it third in the county.
The projections put Layton, with a population of 98,300, at the top of the county's cities, followed by Bountiful with 44,200 projected. Syracuse is third, followed by Kaysville with a projection of 29,750 and Clearfield, currently the third-ranked city, at fifth with a projected population of 27,200.
No city has expressed an intent to annex the Hooper area in the county's far northwest corner, so Sommerkorn assumed it could incorporate itself into the county's 16th and smallest city, with an eventual popualtion of 4,200.
Growth estimates for Davis cities
Layton 41,497 98,300
Bountiful 36,553 44,200
Clearfield 20,623 27,200
Kaysville 13,867 29,750
Centerville 11,516 17,500
Farmington 8,976 19,800
Clinton 7,942 26,800
N. Salt Lake 6,399 14,300
Woods Cross 5,371 7,800
Sunset 5,102 5,300
Syracuse 4,727 35,100
W. Bountiful 4,467 9,350
West Point 4,234 21,500
Fruit Heights 3,898 8,200
South Weber 2,833 9,100
Hooper 250 4,200