NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2002
APPROVAL OF THE APRIL MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of April 4, 2002 as presented. Mr. Roberts seconded; the motion carried.
Present: Dick Weaver, Hal Roberts, Tom Harwood, Marge Fredericks, Doug Terry, William L. Messick, Glenn Hains, Don Harris, Judy Setar, Paul Salvatore, Michael Aguero, Scott Little, Linda Mitchell, Tony Petsis, Bob Pellegrino, Dr. Mlkvy, Barbara Anne Fowkes.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order. New attendees were introduced.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for March 2002. He noted that the Durham Road Associates, LLC project was continued to the 4/10/02 BOS meeting, and that the township is awaiting reviews; the project is being coordinated with the 413 Office Center project. Mr. Harwood said that the Newtown Office Commons Expansion is at the Planning Commission review stage, and that there are many questions about the project; it is not ready for board consideration at present.
APPROVAL OF THE MARCH MINUTES: Mr. Roberts moved to approve the minutes of March 7, 2002 as presented. Ms. Fredericks seconded; the motion carried.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
There was no report, as Ms. Kruse was not present.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION
Tony Petsis, a JDNC board member, said that Ms. Kruse had suggested that JDNC become part of the BDC. Mr. Petsis introduced Paul Salvatore, who will try to attend regularly and communicate what is going on with the JDNC. Mr. Petsis said that the JDNC is involved with several projects, most notably the Chancellor Street project; JDNC is a conduit for the collection of donations. Mr. Petsis said that there are four active committees: Organization, Economic Structuring, Design and Promotion. One of the corporation’s goals is to pull together the business community in Newtown.
Mr. Terry reported that the committee has been discussing the issue, but will wait to see the results of the YMCA study.
Mr. Weaver distributed a copy of the mission statement approved by the BOS at their March 18, 2002 meeting, which read:
“The Business Development Council forms a cadre of local business professionals for the purpose of promoting and maintaining a healthy business environment. The council will make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.”
Mr. Weaver said that he would like to see BDC membership opened up to everyone rather than be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. He would like the only restriction to be that each organization has only one vote. Mr. Weaver said that if the council were in agreement, he would take the idea back to the supervisors.
Mr. Roberts agreed, saying that it would provide a broader base for membership and discussion. Mr. Terry felt it was an excellent idea, and said that BDC is a good place for discussion when issues arise that concern the business community. Ms. Mitchell said that as the president of the Newtown Business and Professional Association, with 130 members, she would be happy to make information about the BDC available to the association members; this could help to create increased involvement in BDC.
General Discussion Concerning the Business Community
Mr. Weaver said that he would like to see something developed that would promote Newtown as a great place to do business, and might include a list of available commercial real estate. Mr. Petsis said that his JDNC Promotions Committee is working on a promotional video that would highlight the unique characteristics, historical aspects and local events of Newtown. The video is being developed by two college students and should be available for a nominal fee. Ms. Mitchell asked how the video would be distributed. Mr. Petsis said that the distribution process has not been developed, but his committee thought that the initial audience might be real estate offices. Another audience would be prospective businesses.
Mr. Petsis said that the video would show the rehabilitation in Newtown and how Newtown has changed over the years, and would include interviews with local residents and clips from local events and movies. Ms. Mitchell asked if the NBPA might be included as an organization that helps businesses; Mr. Petsis said their inclusion was planned.
Mr. Harris asked if there was any survey to indicate why companies are leaving Newtown, and said if those issues could be identified they could be addressed. No one present thought such a survey had been conducted. Mr. Harris suggested this might be a project for the BDC. He said there must be a reason for the regular turnover in businesses that both Newtown Borough and Township are experiencing. Mr. Terry said he personally believes that the Industrial Park is changing from a manufacturing base to more office and high technology services. He said this is probably driven by price; it is too expensive for manufacturing. Mr. Weaver said that a Bucks County Planning Commission report said that manufacturing was moving into Falls Township.
Medical Use in the OR
Mr. Terry presented a map of the Industrial Park, and said he was concerned when things were happening in the township and borough that the business community was not aware of. He reviewed the issue of elimination of medical use as a permitted use in the OR. He said that the only reason he had heard for this change was an objection to resulting traffic; this doesn’t make any sense to him. Mr. Harwood said that there had been some concern that traffic would be more constant through the day, rather than just at the beginning and end of the business day, and that there would be a higher demand on parking. Mr. Mlkvy said that such a constant traffic usage worked well at the Newtown Athletic and Aquatic Club. Mr. Terry said that if there is not the required amount of parking, than development plans are not approved by the township.
Mr. Terry felt that that the medical use issue was important, and cited the lack of communication between the municipalities and the business community. He said that he assumed this issue would go to the Planning Commission, but he didn’t know when. He encouraged those interested to attend the April 16, 2002 Planning Commission meeting.
Mr. Messick said that he and Mr. Terry were beginning to compare tax revenue relating to manufacturing v. medical v. office use in the OR. Mr. Harris felt that any survey that could determine what businesses might be interested in locating in the OR could be very useful to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Terry said he would try to bring the tax study results to the next meeting.
Mr. Mlkvy asked how communication between the municipalities and the business community could be improved. He asked if Mr. Weaver could get this issue on an upcoming BOS meeting agenda; Mr. Weaver said he would follow up. Mr. Roberts agreed that communication was a problem, saying that BDC was not asked for feedback about the issue of the new OLI District.
Membership List Usage
The question of the appropriateness of council members using the membership list to send information about their businesses was raised; the council members present approved this use.
Ms. Mitchell said she would be the liaison to the BDC from the Newtown Business and Professional Association, to help keep the organizations informed of each other’s activities.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for May 2, 2002 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM. The cost is $10; please RSVP to the recording secretary (contact information is included on the attached agenda).
Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 1:15 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary