By MATT BLOIS
Spring Hill’s mayor and city administrator announced at the State of the City address today that they would like to see more moderate growth in the city.
City administrator Victor Lay and mayor Rick Graham said they hoped to reduce the number of building permits issued each year by almost 40 percent, during a theatrical presentation involving a cow mascot from Chick-Fil-A, M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” and a fake cyber attack.
Last year the city issued 804 permits, and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has set a goal of 500 permits per year. The number of building permits issued by the city has increased by about 100 each year since 2009 when it issued 192.
Lay said reducing the number of permits would make it easier for city services to keep up.
“It allows our existing infrastructure to last longer,” he said.
Cutting the number of building permits by almost 40 percent could prove difficult in a fast-growing city like Spring Hill, but he said eventually there won’t be much land left to build on and that should slow down the number of applications for permits.
Even with the goal of moderate growth, Lay expects between 55,000 and 60,000 people will live in Spring Hill by 2030. The city’s water treatment and sewer treatment facilities have a finite capacity, and if the city keeps issuing lots of building permits it might have to expand those facilities or build new ones. But Lay said Spring Hill is ready to provide that infrastructure even if the city grows faster than expected.
Much of the presentation focused on how the city is trying to improve its roads to deal with traffic and population growth. The crowd cheered when Graham and Lay talked about a project that would add a traffic signal to the ramp at Port Royal Road and Saturn Parkway.
The tables at the event all had yellow construction helmets and orange traffic cones, and at the end of the event Graham and Lay revealed that there were stress balls hidden under the helmets to help reduce frustration while sitting in traffic. Building infrastructure to keep up with the growth will cost the city millions of dollars, but the city printed the slogan “It’ll be worth it” on the stress balls.
The growing population puts a strain on the road infrastructure in the city, but it does makes it easier to pay for, too. Sales tax revenue has increased steadily over the past several years, and in December 2016 the city brought in $720,000 in sales tax revenue.