HUNTERSVILLE – A 2012 U.S. Census estimate ranks Huntersville as the 19th-largest municipality in the state.

Huntersville’s status as a town, however, puts it in a more interesting ranking. The Census estimated the town’s population at 49,344, which makes Huntersville North Carolina’s third-largest municipality that still calls itself a town.

Cary – whose population is in the 150,000 range – and Chapel Hill, which has about 10,000 more people than Huntersville, are the only two “towns” bigger than Huntersville in the state.

A status change to “City of Huntersville” would require board approval and an amendment of the town’s charter, but don’t expect it to happen in the next year or two.

Commissioners – who would be called “city councilmen” if the status changed – voted down a change about five years ago, Town Attorney Bob Blythe said.
“It’s been debated,” Blythe said. “There was a proposal to make it a city when we amended the charter, but the feeling was it’s historically been a town and it sounds better that way. It’s a unique thing. ”

The town has worked for years to strike a balance between promoting growth and development while maintaining the feeling of a small community. At least two town board members believe a switch to “City of Huntersville” wouldn’t do a lot of good.

“I like keeping our status as a town,” Commissioner Rob Kidwell said. “When I talk to people from out of this state, and they ask me where I live, I like saying ‘I live in Huntersville, a little town of about 50,000 people.’ Obviously it’s bigger than a little town now, but it still kind of has that identity and that feel. It’s part of what separates Huntersville from other municipalities.”

Commissioner Ron Julian agreed.

“At some point we may switch to a city, but it comes down to what you want to portray to your citizens,” Julian said.

“A city just seems bigger, less personal, and a town, to me, just portrays something smaller, and not size-wise, but more of a closeness. That’s what we want. It was a decision by the commissioners for the time being to keep it as that, but it still could change at some point.”