On the southeastern side of Mecklenburg County is Union, which for the past decade has been the fastest-growing county in North Carolina. The western part of the county is recognized for its suburban development while the rest of the county remains solidly rural. Western Union County’s growth can be attributed to its proximity to booming southeast Charlotte and low residential property taxes.
Fueled by the poultry industry, Union ranks third in the state in agricultural income. The county’s only major multi-lane highway, US 74, has gained a reputation for congestion, and Union’s water and sewer capacity is limited, relying heavily on private wells, septic tanks and developer-financed “package plants” to fill in the gaps where county and municipal systems do not offer service. Yet, in spite of these infrastructure challenges, Union’s growth (primarily residential) has continued at an extraordinary pace.
Union enacted one of the region’s few Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances to help pay for new school construction to serve the county’s booming residential population, while several major economic development strategies were given top priority status. The planned Monroe Connector/Bypass, for one, is intended to give Union improved access to Charlotte and Interstate 485, and the county’s main economic development agency, the Union Partnership for Progress, has launched an ambitious effort to establish a premier business park, called Project Legacy, on 5,000 acres in the eastern part of the county.