April 26, 2018
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Hampden leaders set to meet with planning expert

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

HAMPDEN, Maine — A national expert on conservation-based planning will meet with town councilors, planning board members and local business leaders to discuss how Hampden can implement its updated comprehensive plan.

Randall Arendt, a landscape planner and well-known author and lecturer from Rhode Island, will lead a workshop from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Hampden town office.

Council Chairman Matthew Arnett said two of his fellow councilors have worked with Arendt in the past, and the council believes he represents their vision for future development.

“We want to portray ourselves as a suburban community that is successful in keeping the best of [our] rural atmosphere,” he said. “One method is to move toward conservation subdivision structure, which means clustering housing and leaving open space. That’s an area where [Arendt] has been a leader.”

A few years ago, town leaders embarked on an update of the comprehensive plan. Among other things, an updated plan is required for access to certain state grant funds. Although conservation is a big piece of what the town wants to do, it remains pro-development, and Arendt bills himself as a consultant who bridges the divide between land-use planning and land conservation.

“The town is trying to find a balance between preserving green space while still encouraging economic development,” Town Manager Susan Lessard said. “Despite popular belief, those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. They can co-exist.”

Hampden, one of many bedroom communities surrounding Bangor, has grown over the last several years as families migrate away from the city. With a new $51.6 million high school under construction and a still relatively low tax rate, the town remains attractive.

Although Hampden is still largely residential, Arnett said the comprehensive plan update does include ways to encourage commercial development, specifically along the U.S. Route 202 corridor.

“[Arendt], we hope, can provide some leadership and specifics on some of the ideas we have and even help us flesh out the ordinance structure needed to do this type of planning,” Arnett said. “We expect a good discussion and a lot of good ideas.”

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