Town poised to grow

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HARTFORD – Small business development in the town center was favored by some at Thursday night’s comprehensive plan hearing.

Six residents reviewed the land-use portion of the plan, with some leaning toward encouraging small businesses along Route 140 in the town center.

Beverly Murphy said she would like to see a small store that would provide basic food necessities and coffee.

“There are already several cottage industries in Hartford, but a store is needed,” she said.

Selectman David Bowen said he would like the three-acre minimum dropped to one acre near the center on Route 140 to encourage small business development. He also wants the area to be designated a commercial zone. Such enterprises would help alleviate the tax burden, he said.

Laurie Babineau, an artist, instructor and performer, runs a retreat center that offers learning opportunities for up to 50 people. She said she chose Hartford for her business for the rural atmosphere and its easy accessibility off Route 219.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee had maps from John Mahoney at Androscoggin Valley Council on Governments showing desirable areas for new homes that leave large tracts of land for wildlife habitats. The three major areas for development are on Route 140 near Canton and Lake Anasagunticook, the village area in Hartford, and an area on Route 219 close to Turner and Bear Pond. One concern was the impact developments may have on the lake and pond.

Committee member David Kraske said the area on School Street should have been designated because of the great views, and also Guerney Hill Road.

“Growth is coming to Hartford, and we need to be ready,” he said.

The population is projected to be 1,700 people in 2020 with an additional 300 homes. Hartford now has 1,100 people.

Leslie Boness thought the town should be pushing agriculture and crafts. She also favored a senior-citizen-type community, as did Murphy.

Asked what they thought about wind farms, most said they wished they had one on their property. Murphy said when she was young, her dad had a windmill that supplied power for their lights.

The committee will hold its final hearing in August and hopes to have the town vote to accept the plan in December.

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