January 18, 2022

Panel could boost plans for professional park > Comprehensive plan for Trenton calls for broader tax base, better business climate

TRENTON — Local interest in developing a professional or business park in Trenton could take a step forward this fall with the formation of a business development committee.

High on the list of priorities within Trenton’s recently approved comprehensive plan is the goal to broaden the town’s tax base and improve the business climate.

Townspeople have committed $3,000 in local funds to match an anticipated $9,000 grant from the state to begin work on specific goals within the plan.

Jim Cameron, chairman of the Trenton selectmen, explained Thursday that a committee of residents and business owners will consider how the town could recruit “light industries” by constructing a business park.

“We’d like to do it,” Cameron said, “but the mechanics of it are cumbersome.” Topping the list of immediate problems is the fact that the town presently owns no land on which to construct such a park.

Much of the available property may have problems with soil conditions, making water and septic systems difficult to install. There are few public facilities, such as a town sewage-collection system.

But Trenton does have some rare qualities that make the siting of a business park in the community attractive, Cameron added. The tax base is fairly comfortable, the Bar Harbor airport is within town borders, the housing is affordable by Mount Desert Island standards, and the central corridor of Route 3 provides a straight route to Ellsworth, Bangor and the MDI communities.

Trenton’s consideration of a business park coincides with the goal of the Enterprise Council on Mount Desert Island. That organization has defined one of its aims as creating a diverse economic base for the island while working to protect the quality of life.

After a series of meetings last spring, representatives of the Enterprise Council said efforts should be made to develop a business park in the area, one that would be attractive to new environmentally-friendly businesses.

It was noted at a recent meeting of the Enterprise Council that Trenton could serve as an excellent site for a business park because of its geographic location and proximity to the airport.

Because the bulk of commercial development in Trenton is along Route 3, residents signalled in their comprehensive plan a desire to protect the remaining scenic spots, particularly those that afford commanding views of the mountains on Mount Desert Island.

To do that, local zoning ordinances will need some tightening. There is interest in siting any new commercial enterprises off the road, hidden in the trees.

The town is participating in a Route 3 corridor study being coordinated by the Hancock County Planning Commission. According to Cameron, the town is most concerned about the amount of traffic and the speed of that traffic through its primary commercial district.

“We want to protect and preserve the town’s aesthetics,” Cameron said. “So we will need to do some work. We see an opportunity here for the town that would be to a lot of people’s advantage.”

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