Northern Utah population counts surge due, in part, to open land

New homes take shape in West Haven, one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah. The photo was taken Thursday.

New homes take shape in West Haven, one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah. The photo was taken Thursday. (Tim Vandenack,

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WEST HAVEN — West Haven in western Weber County once again sits near the top of the list in terms of population growth among Utah's cities.

"I think West Haven has a really good reputation to start with," said Mayor Rob Vanderwood. "It's a good fit because it's close to Ogden and a lot of other amenities."

It's not the only northern Utah locale near the top of the growth list, though. Nearby Syracuse, too, sits near the top, particularly among cities with 20,000 or more people. Smaller West Point, just north of Syracuse, is also a fast-growing city, according to the latest municipal population estimates for 2023 released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Growth in Weber and Davis counties trails that of booming Utah County. Overall population growth between 2020 and 2023 surged 9.1% in Utah County compared to 3.7% in Weber County and 2.9% in Davis County. Nevertheless, Weber and Davis counties have their pockets of growth, notably where some of the few open spaces north of Salt Lake County remain, in northwestern Davis County and western Weber County north of that, where West Haven, Syracuse and West Point sit.

"Some of the farmers out here are selling their parcels," creating space where new housing can be built, said Vanderwood.

Laws noted a similar trend in the West Point area. Growth isn't quite as intense there as some other cities, Laws said, but if and when some of the agricultural land in the area is sold to developers, he expects housing growth and population growth to pick up. "It's been pretty steady growth for the last several years," Laws said.

Here are some highlights pertaining to Weber and Davis counties from the new U.S. Census Bureau numbers:

West Haven: West Haven was the second-fastest growing city in all of Utah between 2020 and 2023, going from 17,192 residents to 24,014, 39.7% growth. Only much smaller Hideout in Wasatch County, now numbering 1,398 residents, grew at a faster pace.

West Haven was the third-fastest growing city in Utah from 2022 to 2023, up 7.4%, trailing only much smaller Garden City and Marysvale, each with less than 750 residents. The Weber County city sat near the top of the list for year-on-year growth statewide in 2022 and 2021 as well.

New homes take shape in West Haven, one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah. The photo was taken Thursday.
New homes take shape in West Haven, one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah. The photo was taken Thursday. (Photo: Tim Vandenack,

Many apartment buildings have been sprouting in West Haven, to the chagrin of some residents leery of high-density development, figuring in the growth. In that regard, Vanderwood said, the city is "a little out of balance" with other Weber County cities. He estimates that single-family homes account for perhaps 60% of housing in the city, with apartments and town houses accounting for 40%. The split elsewhere, he said, is 75%-25%.

West Haven is also the clear leader in growth in Weber County, followed by Plain City and North Ogden.

West Point, Syracuse: West Point and Syracuse are the growth leaders in Davis County, gauging by percent expansion.

West Point grew 5% between 2022 and 2023 and 12.8% from 2020 to 2023, expanding to 12,479 residents as of 2023. Much larger Syracuse grew 4.2% between 2022 and 2023 and 14.3% between 2020 and 2023 to 37,022 residents.

West Point was the 15th-fastest growing city statewide from 2022 to 2023 while Syracuse sat at No. 19 among Utah's 255 locales. Excluding cities with less than 10,000 people, West Point was the eighth-fastest growing city in Utah and Syracuse was 10th-fastest. Among cities with at least 20,000 residents, Syracuse was the eighth-fastest growing locale in the one-year period.

Looking forward, the West Davis Corridor, which now ends in West Point though it's to be extended northward into Weber County, could be another motor to growth, Laws said.

Clearfield: Clearfield was the third-fastest growing Davis County city, expanding by 8% from 2020 to 2023 to 34,470 residents. Numerically, it grew by 2,557 between 2020 and 2023, the second-biggest jump in the county behind Syracuse, which welcomed 4,636 newcomers.

Clearfield city manager J.J. Allen said part of the city's growth stems from many new apartment buildings on State Street, the main drag through the city. Given the city's location next to Hill Air Force Base, many of the new residents come from the ranks of the U.S. Air Force as well as defense contractors in the area, like Northrop Grumman.

Unlike Syracuse and West Point, Clearfield is hemmed in on all sides by other cities or Hill Air Force Base. Growth, Allen said, has come most notably from new development within Clearfield's existing boundaries, including the new State Street apartments.

Layton: Layton, the second-largest city in Utah north of Salt Lake County and the biggest city in Davis County, has been growing while Ogden, the largest city north of Salt Lake County, has been holding relatively steady. Layton is still several thousand people away from surpassing Ogden, though.

As of 2023, Ogden had 87,267 residents, down slightly from 87,297 in 2020. Layton grew by 1.8% in the period from 82,046 to 83,516 residents.

Reflecting the growth in the West Point and Syracuse area, Davis School District is building a new elementary school and a new junior high school in West Point. Reflecting the growth in the West Haven area, Weber School District is building a new elementary school and a new junior high school in the city and a new high school in the nearby Taylor area.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.


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