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Growing population means changes in Rexburg

Growing population means changes in Rexburg

REXBURG, Idaho - Rexburg's population is growing, and the city is changing how it builds to accommodate the increase.

The large student population is a big part of how the city moves forward with development, and some of the changes are saving taxpayer money.

New mom Kelly Furrows has lived in Rexburg for four and a half years. She graduated from BYU-Idaho last fall and has seen a lot of change.

"We've seen so many developments go up. It's not the prettiest thing to look at, but it's really great to see a growth in the city," said Furrows.

Rexburg has seen a 43 percent growth over the past 10 years.

The city estimates if the trend continues, the population of Rexburg will be more than 52,000 by 2030.

"I think it's nice to see so many people planting roots here," said Furrows.

Planting roots usually involves buying single-family homes, but for those who live in houses across from where the city is planting projects for large-scale student housing, Furrows said she can see the problem.

"I'd feel bad if I lived in a house because I think that would take down property value," said Furrows.

Val Christensen, building official with the city of Rexburg, has a name for that.

"I call them 'NIMBYs' -- Not In My Backyard," said Christensen.

Like any project, there is bound to be some criticism.

"You know, as you grow, there's growing pains," said Christensen.

As the city grows, changes have been made to the zoning and development code.

"Residential zones it was a 30 foot maximum, and we've raised that to a 55 feet, and that's to a horizontal wall height so that will allow at least a five-story building," said Christensen.

A project at North Point reflects that change. Fourteen homes, which housed about 150 students, were taken down. The apartments now hold 1,100 residents.

The upgrade also meant the city increased the number of people allowed inĀ  some areas.

The apartments are part of several mixed-use zones which allow residential, retail and commercial in the same place.

Christensen said in the end, it all saves taxpayer money.

"We don't have to run police cars, we don't have to run fire trucks out there and so it saves us on infrastructure and services," said Christensen.

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