When you live in Union County, you’ve got choices.
You can live the suburban life of a person who’s a 30-minute drive from Charlotte. You can live in a small-town atmosphere and insulate yourself from the city buzz. Or, you can live a rural life amid the county’s vegetable and livestock farms.
And either choice can be quite satisfying.
Obviously, you can’t deny the proximity to Mecklenburg County and Charlotte.
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Tens of thousands of workers commute daily to Charlotte. Union County residents also support the Panthers, Hornets, minor league baseball, shopping, theater events, churches and a host of other attractions.
However, Union County has its own charm and attractions.
Start with the George A. Batte Jr. Fine Arts Center on the Wingate University Campus. If you’re looking for entertainment, from high-profile entertainers, or provocative speeches from well-known celebrities, check out the schedule at battecenter.org.
There’s also the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, the Museum of the Waxhaws and the Heritage Room in the Old Union County Courthouse in Monroe.
There’s something special about the 640 square miles we call Union County; 222,742 people have chosen to live here, according to 2015 U.S Census population estimates. That population is divided across 14 municipalities and unincorporated areas. Stallings, Indian Trail and Monroe have the highest populations.
Indian Trail is the county’s largest city with 37,073 people, according to 2015 census estimates.
That’s followed by Monroe with 34,623 and Stallings with 15,270. Stallings and Indian Trail share a border with Mecklenburg County.
Monroe, the county seat, is near the center of the county. In the southern part of Union County, you’ve got Waxhaw (13,495), Weddington (10,531 people and also at the Mecklenburg border) and Marvin ( 6,181), all not far from Ballantyne, the highly popular, fast growing suburb of Charlotte.
Remember Wingate? It’s home to 3,491 people and Wingate University, which has a satellite campus in Ballantyne.
And if suburbs with a more rural feel are what you want, there’s Unionville, Lake Park, Hemby Bridge, Fairview, Marshville, Mineral Springs and Wesley Chapel.
Most of these towns are tied together by U.S. 74, which runs east-west through the county and is known as Independence Boulevard in Mecklenburg County. U.S. 601, which runs north-south into South Carolina, is a popular beach route. However, a new toll road is under construction. That 20-mile expressway will run north of, and parallel to, U.S. 74. The expressway will link to I-485 in Mecklenburg County and end at U.S. 74 in Marshville.
The toll road is planned to ease congestion along U.S. 74, which now is the main commuter road across Union County.
You also have a choice when it comes to buying a home. Homes, and prices, cover the spectrum. However, everyone must pay county taxes at a rate of .7665 cents per $100 of valuation. If you live in a municipality, you also pay taxes there.
These taxes help pay for amenities like Cane Creek Park in southern Union County and schools. Union County Public Schools consistently perform well by state standards and are a selling point for many who seek to live here. However, overcrowding and long bus rides have taken a toll over the years.
For many years Union County has been among the fastest growing in the state. And that brings us back to where we started. People come here because they can choose how they want to live their lives. And that’s not bad at all.
Cliff Harrington, the Observer’s editor of community news, has lived in Union County for 27 years.
In Union County
Five things you must experience:
Queens Cup Steeplechase: This event is held annually on the last Saturday in April. The race course is at 6103 Waxhaw Highway, Mineral Springs. You’ll see thoroughbred horse racing and can enjoy tailgating and the party atmosphere. Details: 704-843-7070 or visit www.queenscup.org.
Warbirds Over Monroe air show: The event is held the first full weekend in November and is a two-day event. Here’s a chance to look at vintage aircraft. You’ll also see aerobatic and pyrotechnic exhibitions. The event also is an opportunity to honor men and women who served in the military. Details: www.warbirdsovermonroe.com.
Extreme Ice Center: The center is at 4705 Indian Trail-Fairview Road. It’s open year-round and hosts activities that range from ice skating lessons, to birthday parties, to fitness training and other on-ice activities. Details: 704-882-1830 or go to www.xicenter.com.
JAARS Day: There are four scheduled JAARS Day events each year. Go to www.jaars.org/events/jaars-day, or call 704-843-6130. Learn the intricacies of Bible translation, and how it impacts sites world wide.
Marshville Boll Weevil Jamboree: The event is held the third Saturday in September in downtown Marshville. A chance to enjoy music, vendors, food, and even a street dance. Details: 704-624-3183.