NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2002
APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY MINUTES: Ms. Frederick moved to approve the minutes of February 7, 2002 as presented. Ms. Buras seconded; the motion carried.
Council members in attendance: Belinda Buras, Dick Weaver, Lisa Kruse, Hal Roberts, Tom Harwood, Doug Terry, Miguel Sison, Jim Worthington, Marge Fredericks.
Others present: Virginia Bowe, Linda Mitchell, Dave Marcolla, Judy Setar, Don Harris, Evan Lambrose, Mike Aguaro, David S. Wilde, John Pangiochi.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order. As there were many first-time attendees, introductions were made.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for January 2002. He noted that there was a lot of activity in January.
APPROVAL OF THE DECEMBER MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of the January meeting with the following change: in Ms. Mitchell’s presentation, the fourth item in the list of highlights should read (changes in bold): “The Newtown Athletic Club has donated over $2M in products and services to charities…”. Ms. Buras seconded; the motion carried.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Ms. Kruse distributed a flyer, which noted the following upcoming events:
The registration coupon on the flyer can be faxed to make advanced reservations for these programs.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION
Ms. Kruse reported that a reorganization meeting was held in January, and officers were elected. She said that the Organization Committee is working on a calendar site, website address www.newtowncalendar.com, which hopes to be a comprehensive list of events taking place in Newtown. The site is being developed now. The website will also include information about fundraising, the Chancellor Street Renovation Project, and the Main Street Manager. The committee is looking at advertising opportunities on the website; anyone interested should contact Lisa Kruse.
Mr. Harwood said that there have been some complaints concerning the unsightliness of the Acme site. He said that equipment should be moved soon, and the township will address the unkempt state of the site.
Mr. Terry reported that there has been a preliminary meeting of the committee, but that the full committee has not yet met. He asked if anyone else was interested in participating on the committee; Evan Lambrose said he would like to join. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 14, 2002. It will be a lunch meeting; the location will be announced.
Mr. Terry said he had attended a Board of Supervisors Work Session where the mission statement was discussed. He distributed handouts that included the mission statement from the BDC brochure and a statement from the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Terry suggested the addition of the phrase “and by evaluating the manner in which government impacts the business community” before the last sentence. Mr. Weaver said he would take this suggestion back to the supervisors.
LI, OLI, OR DISTRICTS
Mr. Terry said he had recently discovered an ordinance had been passed to take medical out of the Industrial Park/LI District, and asked about the reason for this. Mr. Weaver said the theory was that doctor offices would increase traffic. Mr. Terry asked how the present board felt about this, and if the ordinance could be changed.
Mr. Harwood explained that the OLI District runs along Newtown-Yardley Road, between Penns Trail and almost to the borough line. Some conditional uses are allowed. He said that location is an advantage in the Industrial Park, since it is near the Bypass. He said he thought that the reason for excluding medical use was that it would put stress on the parking situation, necessitating granting of relief.
Mr. Weaver said he had noticed that there were many open areas in the LI District to be developed, and suggested that the township needed to kick off some sort of campaign to encourage development. Mr. Worthington asked why so many areas/buildings are vacant. Mr. Roberts said that prices are high, and that it is difficult to convert manufacturing buildings, that are empty in the LI, to offices. Mr. Terry noted that many of the vacant buildings are very large, and that smaller buildings are being sought for office space. Mr. Weaver asked if some building could be divided into smaller sections.
Mr. Harwood said that some businesses have expanded their impervious surface to the maximum 60%. Mr. Worthington wondered if business owners in the LI were aware that 60% impervious surface was now allowed, and if the promotion of that fact would help development.
Mr. Harris asked who in the township should be encouraging business development. Ms. Kruse said that the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation is beginning to consider business development, and is inventorying Newtown to see what is available. Mr. Terry suggested that the BDC should be part of this effort. Mr. Harris suggested a nicer hotel with convention facilities, perhaps on the Stockburger tract, would be beneficial to Newtown. Mr. Harwood said he would have to check to see if there is any available parcel large enough for such development. Mr. Terry said that he was told that five years ago there were not enough people here to make such a project feasible. Mr. Harris wondered if that situation has changed, especially with the large amount of development in Lower Makefield. Mr. Lambrose suggested that a “longer stay” hotel might help those relocating to this area.
Mr. Wilde asked why businesses were leaving Newtown. Mr. Worthington said that he has some lots in the Industrial Park and is waiting to see how some issues play out in the township, such as the YMCA, before developing these parcels. Mr. Terry noted that 15 years ago Law Admissions purchased their land, were once looking to move out, and now residents want to block development. Mr. Worthington said that good publicity about the business community could help, and suggested that the community could find ways to promote business in the area. Mr. Terry said that the township is presently wrestling with the issue of Toll Brothers developing residential in the OR, and that many people are upset about such development in the OR. He said that Toll Brothers did not want to develop an industrial project in the OR, and said that many parcels in the OR are large, off the Bypass but not visible from the street. Mr. Lambrose said that residential in the middle of industrial is problematic and asked why the OR has not been promoted.
Some wondered what the township could do to encourage industrial over residential development in the OR; Mr. Weaver said that the township could only enforce the code fully. He said that the Board of Supervisors is looking into how to keep the OR industrial. Mr. Worthington asked if there were numbers illustrating the tax revenue difference between the proposed residential development and possible industrial development in the OR.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for March 7, 2002 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM.
ADJOURNMENT: On a motion by Mr. Worthington and second by Mr. Roberts, the meeting adjourned at 1:05 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary