To grow or not to grow

I need to grow. On several fronts. My employers have invested in a new office that I run. They expect it to grow. My family needs me to grow in leadership and provision.

By nature, humans grow. Throughout history, humankind moves forward with innovative technologies and sophistications that cure ills and improve standards of living. As a result, the world population has continuously increased.

Economies are also destined and designed for growth. Our expectation of the Gross Domestic Product, the stock market and other investments is that they will grow. Historically, they have. The trends, over time, are up and to the right.

Growth is the norm, not the exception. However, growth is not always a given. Just ask the fired employee. Just ask any number of rural, West Texas towns.

So, when people say, in effect, “Shut the gates behind me!” my eyebrows furl at their naivete. “Shutting the gates” is either a death knell or an exercise in futility. It is not an effective governing strategy.

Kendall County, Texas, made national news in March when U.S. Census data identified it the 5th fastest growing county in the country.

Of the four counties ahead of Kendall, 3 are in the oil patch and one is a master-planned retirement community in Florida. So, if you take out the counties associated with gas production- the roughnecks and the old farts- Kendall is the fastest growing county in America.

Kendall County and its seat, Boerne, located in the Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin, have long wrestled with growth issues. Scenic landscapes, interstate accessibility, exceptional schools, proximity to shopping and services; all these drive attraction.

People want to live here; therefore, developers want to develop here.

With the uptick in the housing market, developers have dusted off subdivision plans. Five thousand residential lots are in the works in or near the Boerne City Limits. But let’s have some intellectual honesty about the development.

According to the City of Boerne Planning Department, only a few hundred lots will even be available to build on in the next twelve months. After that, lots will come online in units and phases over time.

It will take years before all the proposed lots, houses and people come to fruition. And who knows what might change between now and then?

In 2007, developer-bedevilling doomsdayers predicted the passing of Boerne as we knew it. The reports of Boerne’s death were greatly exaggerated, as Twain might say.

I know personally several of the developers who either have built or are now building local subdivision projects. None are the rape and pillage type. They themselves live here, after all. They see no good in biting the hand that feeds them.

Plus, the development process in Boerne is arduous. The margin for error is slight and not conducive to fly by nights.

In the short run, will some traffic spots get worse before they get better? Sure. Will growing pains plague us from time to time? Of course. But given the alternative of economic stagnation and the flight of our youth, I’ll take a sore joint or two.

So, when you hear smeone say “Boerne: No Vacancy,” think to yourself, “Brain: No Occupancy.”

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas Hill Country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.


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