Every month, Hampden’s economic development director gets calls from business owners who want to locate on the busy Coldbrook Road that runs between Route 1A and Route 2, spanning Hampden and Hermon.
Amy Ryder, who’s been on the job since March 2020, has had inquiries from people wanting to start a day care center, set up a fitness studio, rent office space, open a retail store and build a distribution center.
The town recently rezoned two lots on Coldbrook Road from residential to commercial use, allowing businesses to locate there. But a lot of work still has to be done before Coldbrook Road can support those or other businesses that can add to the town’s tax base and ease the tax burden on homeowners.
While Hampden’s comprehensive plan, written in 2010, envisioned two business districts along Coldbrook Road — one where it intersects with Route 202 and another at the Interstate 95-Coldbrook Road interchange — expensive infrastructure work is needed before development can happen.
“We don’t have sewer connections from lots that are zoned for commercial use along the road,” Ryder said. “We will be addressing that in the new comprehensive plan.”
Ryder said that it was hard to convince a business to locate on Coldbrook Road without those connections to a municipal sewer system.
“Septic tanks aren’t ideal when you have a large quantity of flow, as most businesses do,” she said.
Installing those connections is estimated to cost the town a minimum of $1.8 million, Ryder said. The sewer connections most likely would have to be paid for with a bond issue approved by voters.
Another problem is the sewer system’s limited overall capacity, said Town Manager Paula Scott. And since the system accommodates both stormwater and sewage, large amounts of stormwater lower the capacity for sewage that would come into the system with more development along Coldbrook Road, she said.
About half the businesses and homes in town are on the public sewer system, while the rest have septic systems.
The comprehensive plan will need to address that issue before development can begin on Coldbrook Road, according to Ryder.
“Hampden business owners have said that Hampden is more than just subdivisions and we need to do more to promote the town to businesses outside the business park (located off Route 202),” Scott said.
Work on a new comprehensive plan will begin this fall. It will set goals to guide development in Hampden over the next 20 years, including in the areas of land use, environment, transportation, public health, resource use and infrastructure.