Kurtis Quillin reports.
BELTON - Central Texas is growing quickly.
They City of Belton has seen its population grow 12 percent since 2013 and it is now eyeing another area which could boom in the near future.
But as the population in the area increases, so does the number of kids in nearby schools. Belton ISD is anticipating a 31 percent growth over the next 10 years.
So how are the city and school district coping with the growth?
"The growth is inevitable," Paul Romer, city of Belton spokesman said. "And we should meet it the best way that we can."
The saying, "If you build it, they will come," isn't just a cliche for the city of Belton.
"We've grown by about 3,600 students over the last decade," Belton ISD superintendent Susan Kincannon said. "And we anticipate to grow by another 3,500-3,600 students over the next decade."
But it is not just in Belton. New homes are popping up all over Hewitt, too.
"Inside Hewitt, we've got Moonlight subdivision, which is several hundred lots, there," Hewitt city manager Adam Miles said. "We've got Sunflower Ridge. There's developers that are wrapping up development in Stone Ridge."
In 2006, the city of Belton connected Sparta Road with State Highway 317 (Main Street). Once that happened, Walmart, HEB and other businesses popped right up.
"That connection kind of primed the area for future growth," Romer said.
Now, the city wants to expand sewer service in the area south of the Bell County Expo Center between Loop 121 and the Lampasas River.
While that's not the only area in Belton seeing growth, it's the only one in need of infrastructure. North Belton is seeing drastic growth, as well, but infrastructure is largely in place, there.
Romer said the city estimates the cost to be around $6 million and is preparing to take bids on the project soon.
"That type of change, that impact, we believe can happen again in the south if sewer goes into that area," he said.
Belton ISD is already prepared for the growth that might come with it. The new Lake Belton High School will open in 2020.
The district also has plans for a 109-acre plot of land on Shanklin Road near the Expo Center.
"Possibly an elementary school, possibly a third high school down the road," Kincannon said. "Or, perhaps even a middle school. That property will be available to accommodate the district's growth."
Belton ISD superintendent Susan Kincannon said the district grew by more 400 students this year, about 3.7 percent.
"At the high school level, we grew over 5 percent this year," Kincannon said.
As more and more families continue to pour into the area, that means more roads, too.
A project called the Lake-to-Lake Road is in the early planning stages and will connect Stillhouse Hollow Lake with Belton lake, providing the city with a third North-South highway.
Annexation is another option for Belton to give the city more room to grow. But in Hewitt, that's not an option.
In spite of seeing the apartments and housing developments popping up in Hewitt, the city has no room to grow. It's landlocked by Waco, Robinson and Lorena.
But no annexation means no need for major infrastructure projects.
"Big picture for us, we're not having to do long term planning in annexing new land and trying to extend utilities," Miles said. "We've kind of already done that."
So, take a look at South Belton.
Take a look at Southeast Hewitt.
Chances are, once you blink, these areas will look drastically different as Central Texas continues to grow at unprecedented rates.