NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2001
APPROVAL OF THE OCTOBER MINUTES: The minutes of the October meeting were approved as presented.
In attendance: Steve Sanderlin, Belinda Buras, Hal Roberts, Miguel Sison, Dave Marcolla, Dick Weaver, Judge Donald Nasshorn.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
In the absence of Mr. Harwood, Ms. Dunleavy distributed and reviewed the report for September 2001.
Mr. Sanderlin reported that, in reference to the Commerce sign variance request, the Board of Supervisors is allowing applications for signs consistent with the size and scope of Applebee’s signs. He also said that because of the many home additions and renovations being done, the township is looking to hire an additional staff member for the Codes Department to help with the increased demand for services.
After a brief introduction from Mr. Sanderlin, Judge Nasshorn spoke on a variety of topics.
§ He said that persons should make a business decision in regards to filing in small claims court, as the costs can be more than the return. He usually encourages litigants to take five minutes to talk before a court appearance – discussing just numbers – in an attempt to settle. He cannot be involved in any negotiations, but can only facilitate administratively. He said he tries to do the same with the township to keep costs down. He attempts to make a decision that satisfies everyone, to avoid a costly appeal.
§ He said he felt lucky to be a judge in this area, as people are really very nice. He attempts to be as informal as he can in court, to make the situation as comfortable for the litigants as possible. He said he thought that the court system should the last resort.
§ Judge Nasshorn said that his district court is one of the most current courts in Bucks County, and in PA. Anyone can come sit in at court; the only time he polls the room is in a case involving a minor or abuse.
§ The Bucks court system is rather archaic, developing from the old magistrate system. As a judge, he handles everything – civil and criminal. In Pennsylvania, one does not have to be an attorney to be a district judge. Judge Nasshorn is one of three judges in Bucks County with a law degree. If a judge is not law trained, he/she must go through an education course and take an exam.
§ Judge Nasshorn said that amounts handled in small claims court are greater now – the limit is $8000. This is mostly to relieve the larger case loads in the higher courts.
§ Judge Nasshorn said he could speak with the BDC because it is not a political organization. He can attend political functions only during a 9-month period when he is running for office. He said he would not join any organization he was not already a member of before he took the bench.
§ He must recuse any case in which he has a fiduciary relationship with anyone involved. He said he would briefly describe in court a relationship with a person in a case, to put the situation in context.
§ Judge Nasshorn spoke of the high ethical standards he follows, which are required to foster confidence in a judge and in the court system.
§ Most people who appear before him are not represented by an attorney; sometimes people think they can handle the case or it is not worth the money to hire a lawyer. Sometimes people get in over their heads.
Ms. Buras asked how strong contracts are. Judge Nasshorn said they are fairly strong when things are going well and contracts are not being scrutinized. He said that time frames/deadlines are dependent on specifics, products being consistent, conditions and the specific situation. He said that the deadline to make a claim might depend on who is involved. For example, professionals or vendors may be expected to know more, and so might be required to make a claim in a shorter period; “they should have known.” Judge Nasshorn said he has handled oral contracts, but in court it comes down to reasonable expectation and credibility. He tries to formulate a meeting of the minds by placing together elements of the contract; the plaintiff has the burden of proof.
APPROVAL OF THE SEPTEMBER MINUTES: The minutes of the September meeting were approved as presented.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:
Lisa Kruse was absent; there was no report.
SIGN ORDINANCE: The sign ordinance is at the Planning Commission.
Ms. Buras and Mr. Roberts reported that the residents are all delivered. Ms. Dunleavy said she had mailed the thank you letters to volunteers, which had been drafted by Ms. Buras and signed by Mr. Sanderlin. Letters were sent to individuals helping to stuff packets, as well as to Pickering Manor, Chandler Hall, D’Youville, and Council Rock Senior Center for their assistance. Ms. Dunleavy will make sure that the borough and township have some packets.
Ms. Kruse was absent, but Ms. Dunleavy is the recording secretary for the corporation and she reported that the four committees – Design, Promotion, Organization and Economic Structuring – are working on planning projects. Tony Petsis and his Promotion committee recently held a symposium with various civic groups to discuss possible cooperation and coordination.
Mr. Sanderlin said that the last utility, PECO, is working now. All utility work should be done by the end of the year.
INVITATION TO BUSINESSES
The invitation is printed and the labels have been prepared by Ron Weaver at the township; Ms. Dunleavy will proceed with the mailing this month.
Linda Mitchell of the Newtown Business and Professional Association was suggested as a future speaker. Ms. Dunleavy will contact her about speaking at the December meeting.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for November 1, 2001 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM. The speaker will be Joe DiJulio from Comcast.
ADJOURNMENT: Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 1:45.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary