Progress: Lewisville — Growing up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

Mayor Mike Horn: ‘Lewisville’s small-town character and values make us the most desirable place in our county in which to live and raise a family’

For Lewisville, it’s all about that small-town feel and everything that goes along with it.
Just look at Mayor Mike Horn’s take: “By working to preserve the characteristics of a small town, our residents have a sense of community where they know their neighbors, participate in our many activities that bring people together and share a pride in where they live.”
It all goes back to when the town was incorporated in 1991.
“From our first community comprehensive plan, our residents established a shared vision and direction for the town,” said Horn, the longtime mayor who moved to Lewisville that year and was elected to his first term as a council member two years later. “Everything we have done, every investment we have made in our community, has been consistent and intentional to realize that vision.”
That includes a pedestrian-friendly environment in the downtown area, including establishing Shallowford Square, with sidewalks and street lights, and the eventual expansion of parks and meeting places along with events and activities to connect the community.
Over the years, Lewisville has grown at a steady pace. The town’s census population was 8,826 in 2000, 12,639 in 2010 and 13,381 in 2020. And the rooftops are continuing to be added.
Ken Sadler, who was part of the charter council and has served multiple terms on the board, agreed with Horn that everything has gone according to plan.
“The evolution of the town has been much in line with what we had wanted to occur,” Sadler said. “That was part of why we wanted to have a planning process in place so that we could at least control what we could control. I think the focus of having citizen involvement in all of our committees has been instrumental in helping us move the town in the direction that the citizens want it to move.”
Sadler said that Lewisville’s effort to form its own government included a mindful eye to the larger neighbors to the south and east — and warding off any possibilities of annexation.
“We wanted to control our own destiny, and the best way to do that as a community was to be in control,” he said. “If we were part of Clemmons or part of Winston-Salem, our ability to do that would have been lost.
“My position has always been that you have to balance growth against the rights of people who own property, and that’s what we’ve tried to do — looking at ways to get beneficial results for both those who want to develop and also the citizens of the town.”
Planner Stacy Tolbert, who added the title of assistant town manager last year, said she relies on the past and current comprehensive plans that have been adopted to help keep things on the right track.
“Over the years, Lewisville’s planning boards and town councils have been very supportive of keeping our comprehensive plans updated,” she said. “These plans are important because they create a vision of our residents’ wants and needs in order to be proactive and guide growth, and I encourage residents to attend public involvement meetings. Historically, the plans show a similar vision for Lewisville’s future — maintain the town’s character, focus small businesses and higher densities in the downtown area, preserve the rural and vulnerable areas of town, help Lewisville become more walkable, etc.”
Tolbert said that the most pressing issue facing the town, from a planning perspective, is development and change overall.
“I say this because Lewisville is such a special place and many people want to live here,” she said. “Lewisville is growing, and we have to be able to balance that growth to meet the needs of all residents from young families to seniors. While we grow and new opportunities arise, it is so important to protect our greatest assets including the character, scenic views and our physical environment to name a few.”
Horn pointed to several items worth noting regarding challenges facing the town.
• Managing our growth consistent with our comprehensive plan.
• Putting in place the infrastructure to handle our growing population.
• Retaining our experienced and dedicated town staff.
• Seeking out the next generation of residents to become involved in the leadership of our community.
• Managing our budget to continue to provide our residents with the services they expect.
“Over the years Lewisville, which was once predominately a rural agricultural community, has today become more urban,” Horn said. “The wants and needs of our residents have also evolved. However, I think the roots of a community are somewhat different than its visual appearance. I think our roots are the values we share. How we treat one another. How we connect as a community. How we embrace our history and share a pride of place.
“I don’t think people move to Lewisville because they perceive the community as rural but rather how we have attempted to preserve our small-town character and values that make us the most desirable place in our county in which to live and raise a family.”
James Ayers, the still relatively new town manager, can offer a unique perspective as someone who was looking at Lewisville last year as a job opportunity but also a place to live.
“Before I started as town manager, I visited Lewisville multiple times, and each time I was struck by how friendly and welcoming the residents were to me,” Ayers said. “It was great to see how the community came together in different ways such as attending concerts, planting flowers and picking up litter, or simply gathering for coffee.
“I also observed the investment in community assets ranging from Shallowford Square to Jack Warren Park to the Mary Alice Warren Community Center, plus the town has excellent schools, library, shops, restaurants and more. From the outside looking in, Lewisville appeared to be the perfect hometown, so I became a resident as soon as a suitable place became available.”
Ayers realizes many others also desire to live in Lewisville, and he realizes the importance of growing in a measured way while embracing the many pastoral views and protecting the natural environment and rural heritage.
“Lewisville may have incorporated as a municipality just a few decades ago, but its rich history and culture go back hundreds of years, and it is worth preserving for future generations,” Ayers said. “The growth rate in Lewisville is lower than surrounding cities, and this intentionally measured pace should allow us to achieve balance between growth and preservation while allowing municipal services to keep up with community needs.”
“I can see connections in the literal sense as the town continues to build sidewalks and pathways throughout the community, plus there are the human connections as we present special events like concerts and movie nights that bring neighbors together. If we do our job right, Lewisville will continue to be that friendly and welcoming hometown that is the preferred destination for current and future residents alike.”