Montgomery County’s growing Amish population is likely behind the marked increase in residents seen in the towns of Glen and Palatine, officials said Tuesday.
The town of Glen’s growth of 285 people from 2000 to 2010 represents more than half of the 511 people the county gained during the decade, and town officials believe the growth is helping to keep farmland alive in the rural upstate area.
“It’s in large part the Amish,” town assessor Stella Gittle said Tuesday.
Montgomery County has two distinct groups of Amish.
The first families started moving from Pennsylvania into the towns of Palatine and Mohawk north of the Mohawk River in the mid-1980s.
Several dozen Amish families moved out of Palatine to farms further upstate in the past several years but Amish farmers moved into the farms they vacated, said Palatine Health Officer Mark Brody, a large animal veterinarian.
Brody said from what he’s seen, the town’s Amish population continues to see “steady growth.”
Palatine’s population increased by 170 over the past decade up to 3,240, according to Census 2010.
Roughly five years ago, Amish farmers from Ohio started moving into the southern parts of Montgomery County, including Glen, Minden and Root.
Glen Councilman Henry Shatley Sr. said he believes the bulk of the town’s newer residents are Amish and the remainder are people who wanted to live in a country setting.
“I think a lot of people want to move out of the city,” Shatley said.
Thruway Exit 28 is located in the village of Fultonville, a factor Shatley said makes the town a convenient residence for those who work in Albany or Utica.
Glen Town Supervisor Lawrence Coddington said he believes the Amish residents are behind the town’s growth over the past several years.
He said one indicator for him is voting numbers. He said the Amish typically don’t go to the polls, and about 56 percent of the town’s residents are registered voters compared with other, non-Amish towns with voter registrations as high as 70 percent.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that most of that change is due to the Amish,” he said.
Coddington sees the growth of the Amish population as a benefit because they help maintain the town’s rural character when they buy farms, fix them up and then build a new house.
And though the Amish pay property taxes, they don’t require many services from the town, he said.
“What I’ve seen over the years is they’ve been a good thing for the town of Glen,” Coddington said.
Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush, who chairs the county’s Board of Supervisors, said he attributes growth of 95 people in Minden to the Amish as well.
“In Minden, they’ve taken the farms that were on the brink of going out forever. They’ve taken those farms and they’ve actually brought them back to life,” Quackenbush said.
The population shifts within the county’s towns will require a change in the weight of each county supervisor vote, including that of the Glen, Minden, Palatine, Charleston and St. Johnsville supervisors as well as city supervisors representing the city of Amsterdam, which gained 265 people.
Categories: Schenectady County