By Cady Kuzmich
HALFMOON — The most recent census estimates show Halfmoon is the fastest-growing town in one of the fastest-growing counties in the state.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with the town is likely unsurprised by the latest estimates. Halfmoon has a history of fairly steep growth. The small southern Saratoga County town’s location near GlobalFoundries, paired with relatively abundant developable land and connections made to local sewer lines in the past decade, have contributed to its recent growth.
The town, which neighbors bustling Clifton Park, saw an estimated population increase of just over 10 percent in the past five years, outpacing the region’s 1.5 percent growth rate, according to the most recent census data.
An estimated 23,708 people lived there in 2015.
While a 10 percent increase over the past five years may seem impressive at first glance, the town’s growth in population is actually slowing. Between the 1960 census and the 1970 census, Halfmoon’s population grew by over 120 percent. More recently, Halfmoon’s population rose just 33 percent from 1990 to 2000.
While the small town’s population growth may be slowing, the area’s landscape has undoubtedly changed over the past few decades. Halfmoon town Supervisor Kevin Tollisen said, “20 years ago there was a lot more farmland, a lot more open space.” He added, “We have the infrastructure.
We have trails. We have a lot of new construction. There are a lot of great things happening in Halfmoon.”
Dan Harp of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission confirmed that based on latest estimates, “Halfmoon has seen the greatest percentage increase in population since the 2010 census of any town or city in the four-county region.” Harp added, “Since the 2010 Census, the population of Halfmoon has increased from 21,535 to 23,708, an increase of 2,173, or 10.1 percent.”
Clifton Park saw its population increase by just 1.2 percent in the same period.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Capital Region’s population increased by over 12,000, or 1.5 percent, according to the CDRPC. Overall, the region’s growth is below the state average of 2.2 percent.
According to the commission, “Saratoga County was the only county in the region to see positive international and domestic migration.” The commission also notes that the population growth has remained somewhat stagnant in Schenectady and Rensselaer counties.
Saratoga and Albany counties, which both rank in the top 10 fastest-growing counties in the state, saw the highest growth in the Capital Region with 3 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, according to the CDRPC.
Halfmoon Planning Director Richard Harris said Halfmoon has experienced “unprecedented growth, primarily in residential development.” Halfmoon has “been in the top two or three municipalities in the Capital District in number of building permits issued annually,” according to Harris.
Some of the larger residential projects currently under construction in Halfmoon include a 310-unit development at Sheldon Hills and a 150-unit development in the Pleasant Valley Estates. A few large residential projects completed in Halfmoon in the past five years include 129 single-family homes in Rolling Hills Estates, 82 single-family homes in Brookfield Place and 200 luxury apartments in Kensington of Halfmoon.
“We also have several large residential projects winding their way through the approval process,” noted Harris. Halfmoon has approved several commercial or light-industrial “flex” buildings, including two buildings on Route 146 and two buildings on Liebich Lane.
Two local school districts, the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District and the Shenendehowa Central School District, say the rising population in Halfmoon has not impacted their enrollment. Enrollment trends at the Mechanicville City School District have also remained fairly consistent, according to the state Education Department.
“Growth is something the town needs to continue to move forward,” said Tollisen. “We have to manage the growth in a manner that is productive for all our residents,” he added. Tollisen noted that one of the town’s biggest concerns is traffic. “We’ve made a number of different improvements throughout Halfmoon. Improvements on the backs of the taxpayers who are bringing the growth.”
He added: “Our Planning Board makes sure to maintain the character of the town.”