County surges to 6th-largest in Ill.

McHenry County now is the sixth-largest Illinois county by population, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.

The county officially grew by 18.7 percent to 308,760 residents, according to census data. The 48,683 new residents – about double the United Center’s concert capacity – puts Mc­Henry County ahead of Win­nebago County by about 13,500 people.

McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler said that he expected the number to be higher – the Census Bureau’s last unofficial estimate put the number of residents at almost 321,000 in 2009.

“Generally, we knew it was going to be over 300,000, that was for sure, but we thought it would have been more than 320 [thousand],” said Koehler, R-Crystal Lake.

Many of those new residents call Huntley home.

The village’s population exploded from 5,730 in 2000 to 24,291, or a 324 percent increase. Huntley’s growth is slightly greater than Cary’s entire 2010 population of 18,271.

The number did not surprise Village Manager Dave Johnson, who said the village had been issuing housing permits even during the building downturn. Johnson and other village leaders spent Wednesday at a public hearing for Centegra Health System’s efforts to build a Huntley hospital, based in large part on serving a larger population.

“I think number one, it’s a great place to raise a family; two, the folks who lived in the community for a long time have always been welcoming; and three, the most obvious, we’ve had a mix of traditional development and that big project called Sun City Huntley, which has 5,700 housing units,” Johnson said.

The senior living community’s first occupants settled in 1999, a year after a special census commissioned by Huntley put the village’s population at 3,100, Johnson said. Sun City accounted for about 60 percent of the village’s 1,000 annual housing starts during the housing boom.

Huntley and Woodstock’s new populations put them just shy of the 25,000 needed under the Illinois Constitution to automatically get home rule status, and the expanded taxing and regulating power that comes with it.

Crystal Lake still is the county’s largest municipality with 40,743 residents, with Algonquin still in second place with 30,046 residents. But Algonquin’s 6,770 new residents is about two and a half times the 2,743 new residents reported in Crystal Lake.

Five of the county’s 29 municipalities – all of them along the Fox River in the county’s southeast corner – lost population. The biggest loser was Holiday Hills, which lost more than a quarter of its population, or 221 residents. The 62 residents that Trout Valley lost account for 10 percent of the small village’s population. Other towns losing population were Oakwood Hills, Island Lake and Fox River Grove, which lost only eight residents.

Hispanics, the county and state’s largest minority group, account for 11.4 percent of McHenry County’s population, up from 7.5 percent in 2000.

About 60 percent of Illinois counties lost population, according to census data. Illinois’ total population grew by 3.3 percent to 12.83 million, but the gain was not enough to keep from losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the fourth consecutive census in which Illinois has lost representation – it lost two seats after both the 1970 and 1980 census.

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