Move over, Provo and Orem. Here come Woodland Hills, Highland and Elk Ridge.

Official 1990 census figures released Thursday show that these are the fastest growing cities in Utah County based on percentage increases. Not that Provo and Orem need to worry about their big-city status, however. The biggest of the fastest growing cities - Highland - has about 1/17 as many residents as Provo, the county's largest city.As far as real numbers are concerned, the biggest growth occurred in Orem, which gained 15,162 new residents during the past decade.

"We've had some real healthy growth," said Mayor Blaine Willes. "Obviously we are considered by people to be a good place to live."

But as Utah County's bigger cities, particularly Provo, run out of open building space and become more citified, the little satellite cities will continue to see dramatic growth.

Woodland Hills, which is located at the base of Loafer Mountain near Payson, grew 401.67 percent over the past decade, going from 60 residents in 1980 to 301 in 1990. Woodland Hills has enjoyed cityhood for about 12 years.

"We've made an effort to try to get the city developed because we have the infrastructure to support it," said Mayor Dennis A. Johnson. "We've been some what successful in that."

The city has sponsored open houses for real estate agents and has produced a pamphlet about Woodland Hills to "let people know we'd like to have them come and build here," Johnson said.

Woodland Hills currently has 184 subdivision building lots waiting for homes; the minimum lot size is one acre.

The city's wide open, rural flavor makes it "one of the most beautiful places in Utah," Johnson said.

But that's what the mayor of Highland says about his fast-growing city.

"The stars shine rather brightly out here," said Mayor James A. Hewlett.

Like Woodland Hills, you have to have at least an acre to build in Highland.

"It's basically a very rural type of atmosphere," Hewlett said. The city is a mix of business, professional and agriculture people.

"It's a nice mix and blend and just seems to be a real drawing card,"

Hewlett said.

In addition to its country atmosphere, Highland also has another big drawing card: one of the lowest mill rates in the county. Highland's rate is 23 mills, compared with 37 in Pleasant Grove, 33 in American Fork, 34 in Lehi and 25 in Alpine.

Voluntarism thrives in Highland - the mayor and council positions are voluntary positions - and contributes to a pervasive "let's all pitch in" neighborly feeling in the city.

Highland is in the process of surveying residents to see what direction they want future growth to take, Hewlett said.

Elk Ridge's attraction is similar to that of Highland and Woodland Hills, says Mayor James Bean: open space, peace and quiet and crystalline air.

"It's quiet. We don't have street lights," he said. "It's just a quiet little town."

Bean said Elk Ridge's population is slightly higher than indicated by the census - about 815 rather than 771.

The city, which incorporated about 15 years ago, got a big boost with the creation of the Gladstan Golf Course, which is on the west fringe of the city.

"We've had more homes built this past year than since (the city's) inception," Bean said.

If all that weren't enough, "We do have an elk herd that sometimes makes it way around here," Bean said.

Back to the big cities: Orem's growth helped maintain its ranking among the top 10 biggest cities in the state. In the new census, both Orem and Sandy grew enough in the 1980s to edge out Ogden in a new order of Utah's large cities. Provo, which was the second largest city in the state in 1980, is now the third largest city behind a faster-growing West Valley City.

The largest cities, in order, are: Salt Lake City, 159,936; West Valley City, 86,976; Provo, 86,835; Sandy, 75,058; Orem, 67,561; Ogden, 63,909; West Jordan, 42,892; Layton, 41,784; Bountiful, 36,659 and Logan, 32,762.

Other top contenders in Utah County's population derby are Provo, which gained 12,724 residents, Pleasant Grove, with 2,634, and Highland, with 2,567.

In all, Utah County grew by 20.85 percent in the past decade to 263,590 residents, making it the second most populous county in Utah.

Elected officials in Utah County interviewed by the Deseret News say the census figures are accurate.

The numbers are important because many state and federal monies and grants are allocated based on population, such as B and C road funds, sales and general use taxes, and community development block grants.

Only one Utah County city lost residents during the past decade, and it was a small loss at that. Goshen went from 582 residents to 578 residents.

Mayor Forrest Branagan said that's not surprising, given the fact that about 60 percent of the residents are senior citizens.

"You can't worry," he said. "You just got to wait for us to die."

Few young people chose to stay in Goshen, he said, which is a farming community.

"There is not much to stay for," Branagan said.

Despite a declining population, Goshen isn't about to give up its cityhood and doesn't fear being annexed by some growing neighbor - the city is located too far south for that.

"We will just stay like we are," Branagan said. "Nobody wants it (the city)."


(Additional information)

Area 1990 1980 % Change

Utah County 263,590 218,106 +20.85

Alpine 3,492 2,649 +31.82

American Fork 15,696 13,606 +15.36

Cedar Fort 284 269 +5.58

Cedar Hills 769 571 +34.68

Elk Ridge 771 381 +102.36

Genola 803 630 +27.46

Goshen 578 582 -.69

Highland 5,002 2,435 +105.42

Lehi 8,475 6,848 +23.76

Lindon 3,818 2,796 +36.55

Mapleton 3,572 2,726 +31.03

Orem 67,561 52,399 +28.94

Payson 9,510 8,246 +15.33

Pleasant Grove 13,467 10,833 +24.31

Provo 86,835 74,111 +17.17

Salem 2,284 2,233 +2.28

Santaquin 2,386 2,175 +9.70

Spanish Fork 11,272 9,825 +14.73

Springville 13,950 12,101 +15.28

Woodland Hills 301 60 +401.67

Vineyard 151 *

Unincorporated 12,613 12,630 -.13

*Incorporated in 1989

Source: U.S. Census Bureau