Monday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission to build its 60,000 square foot corporate headquarters at the intersection of Hartford Turnpike and Industrial Drive.
For many towns, a development like that comes around once every five to ten years, especially in a down economy. For Waterford, it was business as usual.
Just in the last few years, despite a depressed economy, Waterford welcomed and It also just approved the aforementioned Charter Oak Federal Credit Union’s , as well as a $34 million proposal by Lawrence + Memorial Hospital to install a
All of that goes on top of a town rich in development, with the , Waterford Commons, the shopping center next to the movie theater and all the businesses on Boston Post Road, Cross Road and Hartford Turnpike. And that doesn’t even mention the $2 billion hunk of steel and concrete on
Ask First Selectman Dan Steward and he gives you a selectman-like answer: “Waterford offers a lot of transportation additives for these people.” Ask Planning Director Tom Wagner, and you get the same basic idea, but a little blunter: “Because Waterford did a pretty good job of taking advantage of the state and federal government dividing us up into a triangle and ruining our town.”
Both Wagner and Steward said the biggest key is that Waterford is one of the few towns in the area that has land directly near on-ramps for I-395 and I-95. Almost all of the town's major developments, including the proposed Dana-Farber center and Charter Oak’s corporate headquarters, are located near one of those highways, Wagner and Steward said.
“These are areas that are easily accessible by the traveling public,” Steward said.
The second big key is that the town installed water and sewer lines to most of these areas in the 1970s and 1980s, Steward said. Water and sewer lines are “essential” for any large development, and without them the town would attract none of these businesses, Wagner said.
The third is that while the reputation has perhaps outlived the reality, Waterford still has one of the lower tax rates in the area, Steward said. Before, but the rate is still the same or lower than most communities, he said.
“They certainly ,” he said. “But low taxes are very much a benefit for these companies.”
Steward credited the town’s for having the town developed in a responsible way. Even with all the construction in town, there is still a lot of commercial and industrial on Cross Road and Hartford Turnpike, which will not have a huge effect on the rest of the town, he said.
However, while the development of commercial and industrial properties has been done well, Waterford isn’t perfect, Steward said. It would be nice to have some sort of downtown area, although that will probably never happen, he said.
“There is no main street environment in Waterford,” Steward said. “And I’m thinking there probably will never be one. It’s hard to implement something that was never there.”