Vision for the Interstate 84 Interchange Special Planning Area
“The Interstate 84 Interchange will provide needed diversity and surety in Ashford’s tax base while growing economic opportunity by permitting the operation of large scale industrial businesses, as well as complementary commercial activities compatible with the rural character of the Town.”
The Interstate 84 Interchange Special Planning Area includes the properties at and around Route 89 and Exit 72 on Interstate 84. The SPA is made significant by its location—along Interstate 84 and minutes from Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike). Those highways are two of New England’s vital transportation arteries and Exit 72 is an important gateway to the Town. Interstate travel, and the SPAs position in a remote corner of Town present an excellent opportunity for recruiting commercial and industrial uses with minimal impact to farmland, forests, and residential properties in interior portions of Town.
Large parcels of land in this SPA have been for sale and marketed by a large commercial real estate firm for a number of years without results. The interchange currently has two businesses: the Ashford Motel and Mainline Heating [2021 update: ToolMax]; otherwise the area is undeveloped. The interchange currently receives little traffic from Exit 72 with vehicles using Route 89 to and from Route 190 in Union. The lack of traffic makes attracting retail and service businesses difficult; however, this interchange and Exit 73, immediately northeast in Union, are among the few interchanges along Interstate 84 that have not been developed. Hence, the interstate proximity could be the strongest marketing attribute for this SPA.
Although this SPA is remote from most of Town, it also a gateway into Ashford for people arriving from Interstate 84. Therefore, efforts should be made to preserve the scenic beauty of the area and natural resources such as wetlands, Morey Pond, and the Mount Hope River. Likewise, any economic development should be mindful of these sensitive environmental resources.