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by Rich Hewitt
It should come as no surprise to Blue Hill residents that when developers look to bring a business to town they target South Street.
With little space for new businesses on Main Street, South Street has long been designated by the town as the next area for economic development and the town has built in the infrastructure to support that development.
As long ago as the 1960s, when the state was working on what planning board member Fern Leach called “central planning,” the selectmen then indicated that South Street would be the next area for development. And in the early 1990s, as the town worked on a comprehensive plan, South Street and the Mines Road were viewed as areas for development.
“Land use discussions, even then, designated those two areas as places where growth could occur, both commercial as well as more compact residential development,” Selectman Jim Schatz said.
Although that planning effort was rejected by voters, as were other efforts toward comprehensive planning, Schatz said that all of the planning discussions have looked at South Street as an area where development would happen. He suggested that development in that area was a natural extension of the town’s other commercial area, the downtown village area.
According to Code Enforcement Officer Judy Jenkins, the town continues to view South Street as the prime location for commercial development.
“For the past 12 years, the town has looked at South Street as the next commercial strip,” she said. “That’s why the sewer line was laid out there.”
In 2011, the town completed work on an extension of the municipal sewer line up Tenney Hill, out the Mines Road to just beyond the Viking Lumber location and out South Street as far as the Barncastle restaurant. According to Jenkins, the existing sewer plant has the capacity to handle any increased development along both of those lines.
South Street already has seen some of that anticipated development. In addition to TradeWinds Market Place, which replaced a previous supermarket that was destroyed by fire, a number of businesses have located along that strip: Rite Aid, NAPA, which previously was a hardware store, and others.