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Letter: Preserve Quechee Tract

To the Editor:

Last year, developer Scott Milne’s attempt to build a 160-acre strip mall on Route 4 in Quechee was blocked by an Act 250 review. Hartford’s Planning Commission is now attempting to overrule the verdict by amending the town master plan.

The Valley News wrote an excellent editorial condemning the Quechee Highlands project for what it was: sprawl. The Hartford Energy Commission broke with the Selectboard and formally opposed the project, as it was in direct violation of Chapter 10 of the town’s master plan: “Energy.” The master plan dictates that future growth be concentrated in the dense village centers to discourage sprawl and thus fossil-fuel-based transportation.

Likewise, the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission vigorously opposed the plan on similar grounds, but at the regional, not town, level.

At the time, the Conservation Committee expressed concerns that the project was slated to be sited in the middle of one of our region’s last remaining large-animal wildlife corridors. It was also destined to be built on a blind curve on the most dangerous section of highway in Hartford.

The land in question, the old Punt farm, represents one of the last contiguous tracts of arable land in the most parceled-out town in the Upper Valley. Truly, it is one of Hartford’s few remaining untapped agricultural resources.

Act 250 was right to block this development.

The Planning Commission’s actions have been taken with little public disclosure; however, concerned residents are now organizing to attend the March 31 hearing at the Hartford Municipal Building. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Please join the conversation.

Luke Eastman

White River Junction