MINT HILL, NC – At the November Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Town Engineer and Director of Public Works Steve Frey shared an update on various ongoing and upcoming projects happening in Mint Hill. Frey’s presentation touched on four different areas: town growth, development activity, active projects and town events. The Mint Hill Times recently had the opportunity to sit down with Frey and talk through this important information and how it will affect Mint Hill and its residents in 2022. Here’s an inside look at town growth, development activity and town events.
“Everybody likes to ask ‘How big is Mint Hill?’’” says Frey. It turns out that it can be a tricky thing to quantify. “I can sit here and say we’re 25-something square miles,” says Frey, “or you could look at the map of Mint Hill.” But neither of those really gives a full picture of the size of our town or its growth.
According to Frey, there are three numbers that, when looked at together, provide a fairly good measure of how big Mint Hill is: miles of town-maintained roads in the city, population, and number of residential units. Mint Hill currently boasts 120.71 miles of town-maintained roads, which represents significant growth over the past decade. In 2019, Mint Hill had 114.19 miles of town maintained roads, and in 2010, just 97.77 miles. According to the 2020 census, Mint Hill has 26,450 residents, representing 16.4% growth since 2010. These numbers show that Mint Hill is growing faster than the state of North Carolina, whose population grew by 10% in the same time frame. Lastly, Mint Hill currently has 9850 residential units (measured by the number of addresses that receive trash service).
One thing these numbers enable us to see is how Mint Hill compares to surrounding cities. Matthews, for example, has a larger population – 33K compared to our 26k. It also has less miles of town-maintained roads – 80 or 90 miles to our 120 – meaning that Matthews may be “smaller” in terms of size but “bigger” in terms of population density.
In the end, even those numbers can’t capture the full story, says Frey. “All I have is the census data,” he explains. “I thought we would have eclipsed 30,000; I’m surprised that it’s only 26.4K. And then I don’t think you can catch the surge that’s happening. Like out here,” he says, gesturing out his window to the new homes under construction behind Town Hall. “I don’t even know how many homes are down there: 70, I think? Those appeared practically overnight.”
You also might be surprised to know what’s not included in that 120 miles of town-maintained roads. “If you’ve ever driven in a neighborhood and the manholes are sticking up above the road or the curb has a lip, that’s what we would call a new neighborhood,” says Frey. “That is not in that 120 miles; those are roads that are basically under development and one day they will be town maintained.”
Mint Hill currently has 18 residential developments classified as active. “‘Not done’ is probably the best description,” says Frey, noting that “active” does not mean you’ll necessarily see construction workers at work if you drive by them today. What it does mean is that these residential developments are not 100% done and accepted by the Town.
According to Frey, Mint Hill is typically light on commercial development. Currently, there are four active commercial developments in Mint Hill: new structures like the O’Reilly Auto Parts on 218. It doesn’t include old structures welcoming new tenants, for example, the former kebab restaurant next to Dunwellz.
2021 brought the return of many beloved in-person events that had been put on pause in 2020 due to COVID, including Family Fun Nights, Tina Ross Afternoon in the Park, and, of course, Mint Hill Madness!
“Madness was off the hook this year!” says Frey “Every year, Sheryl and I take a step back and ask what worked, what didn’t work. We listen to the vendors, we listen to the food people, we listen to the people who go to the event. Every year we try to make changes.”
“This year we probably landed, dare I say, all of the changes we’ve ever wanted to do,” continues Frey. Those changes included bringing in more rides and limiting the amount of vendors at the event (encouraging arts and crafts vendors to register for the Tina Ross event instead), and moving the event to October. Although there are, of course, differing opinions on all of those changes, the general community reaction was positive. People especially loved the fall date with milder temperatures.
Town Hall closed out 2021 with an incredibly successful Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. “We estimate there were approximately 15,000 people at the parade,” says Frey. “At the tree lighting we estimate that there were between 5000 and 7000 people.”
No one keeps official statistics on how many people attend the parade and tree lighting, but from being in the mix of it, Frey estimates both events had double the crowds they saw in 2019, the last time they were held in person. For Frey, those numbers are yet another sign of our town’s growth. “I think we’re wearing out that excuse that people are bored from COVID and just want to get out,” says Frey. “I think people just love our town and want to do more things! Next year will be the gut check for that comment. Will it be just as big? I think it will.”
2021 also marked the continuation of some new traditions born from COVID-related social distancing. One of these was the “Santa Mailbox,” Mint Hill’s direct line to the North Pole, which helped over 300 letters from Mint Hill’s children reach the man in red this year. Mayor Simmons and everyone at Town Hall made sure that each of those letters got to the North Pole, and every single letter got a personalized response from Santa Claus himself.
Two other new traditions started during Mint Hill were spring’s “Hop Around Mint Hill” and fall’s Scarecrow Decorating Contest. Town Hall looks forward to hosting all of these beloved events again in 2022, including another fall Mint Hill Madness!