By Yustin Riopko
INDIAN TRAIL – With a population that’s risen by 4,300 since 2013, according to U.S. census data, Indian Trail is experiencing an annual population growth rate of 2.4 percent.
Some of those numbers come from property annexations, but many of those people are moving to Indian Trail to be near work or family and need a place to live. That’s why more and more developers are applying to build apartments in Indian Trail.
In the wake of an increase in apartment applications and mixed citizen feelings, town council members asked the Union County Sheriff’s Office: “Do apartments generate higher crime rates?”
Capt. Chase Coble responded at the July 24 town council meeting.
Coble said a lot of the assumptions we make about apartment complexes and criminal activity are mistaken. He presented research based on homes in five randomly selected single-family traditional neighborhoods and two attached apartment-style buildings. Coble said we tend to lump all incidents together when they happen at an apartment, but we’re not as likely to do that with detached homes, because even though they’re in the same neighborhood, they have their own four walls and roof.
The sheriff’s office found there is no significant difference if you look at each unit as its own entity. However, Coble suggested that was only because Indian Trail has the right amount of apartments. He advised council members to provide only a supply of apartment homes sufficient to match the demand.
Coble likens this to the idea of competitive gas stations offering free coffee and car washes to entice customers.
“At the end of the day, as an apartment complex owner or manager, coffee is only gonna get them so much,” Coble said. “They’re gonna run a special and it’s gonna be, ‘Hey, you got a criminal history for a narcotics conviction? Come on in. Hey, your credit’s not as good as what we normally want? Come on in.’ They’re gonna lower their standards.”
Town Manager Patrick Sadek thinks there aren’t enough apartments in Indian Trail. He said that after accounting for the more expensive attached dwellings like townhouses and condos, as well as all the single-family dwellings, only 2.69 percent of homes in Indian Trail come in the form of cheaper apartments.
This is a problem, Sadek believes, because apartments are what young “millennial” professionals need to get a start in the world.
“They’re ready to leave home to be on their own and work within Indian Trail,” Sadek said. “None of these millennials getting out of high school or getting out of college are gonna be able to put a 20 percent down payment on a condominium or a house. They’re gonna be spending some time working, trying to save some money to be able to do that.”
Councilmember Mike Head agreed with Sadek, fearing Indian Trail is in danger of “aging out.”
“My concern out of all this is [my] grandsons will not stay here. There’s nothing for them to be here,” Head said. “We will end up being a bedroom community, and a bedroom community will end up being worse than you will ever realize… We need the young professionals. We need the right pricing – the rentals – so that we can keep our community thriving and we can lift millennials.”
Mayor Pro Tem David Cohn doesn’t think a community for Charlotte workers to commute from and live in is such a bad idea.
“I personally don’t mind living in a bedroom community,” Cone said. “I kinda think that’s why we’ve grown as fast as we’ve grown. It’s because we’re a little different. Indian Trail as a whole is a bedroom community and has low taxes. The more people you get in a town, the more your taxes go up… Since I’ve lived here, we’ve built movie theaters, we’ve got the Sun Valley district. It’s not like we’re losing anything. We’re still gaining.”