NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2003
APPROVAL OF THE MARCH MINUTES: Mr. Salvatore moved to approve the minutes of March 6, 2003 as presented. Mr. Roberts seconded; the motion carried.
Present: Richard Weaver, Thomas Harwood, Judy Setar, Paul Salvatore, Doug Terry, Mark Byelich, Paul Lewis, Brandon Wind, Hal Roberts, Del Purscell, David Callahan, Don Harris, Robert West, Carolyn Wisniewski, Jim Worthington, Linda Mitchell, Evan Lambros, Lisa Kruse.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order.
Ms. Mitchell presented a document detailing the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which determined the YMCA not to be a charitable organization. She also included articles from local media and court documents in her handout. Ms. Mitchell felt that this decision was good for business, and said she wanted to make the BDC aware of the decision. Mr. Worthington reported that the YMCA had not decided if they would appeal the court decision, and that they may review their business practices. Mr. Terry suggested that the Council’s YMCA subcommittee be disbanded until or if the YMCA issue is raised again.
American Lung Association Event
Mr. West introduced Carolyn Wisniewski from the American Lung Association, who noted that asthma is the number one reason that children go to the emergency room. She announced that the ALA is sponsoring a walk at Tyler Walk on May 31, 2003 to raise money. She described education programs sponsored by the ALA for children of all ages. She said they are asking for people to form teams for the walk, and encouraged sponsorship by businesses. Ms. Wisniewski said they are anticipating 800 - 1000 walkers, and that they can use volunteers to help with the walk. It was noted that walk information could be found on the Newtown Business and Professional Association website.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for February 2003.
APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY MINUTES: Mr. Byelich moved to approve the minutes of February 6, 2003 as presented. Mr. Terry seconded; the motion carried.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - Lisa Kruse.
Ms. Kruse distributed a list of upcoming meetings and events, noting:
Percolator Program & General Membership Meetings 8:00 - 9:00 AM 2nd Thursday
March 13 @ Wood River Village, Bensalem
April 10 @ Salvation Army, Levittown
Business Card Exchange 4:30 – 6:30 PM
Wednesday, March 26 @ King’s Caterers, Bristol
Sharpen Your Edge Business Technology Seminars 8:00-9:00 AM
Tuesday, April 1: “Increase Sales: Using Visibility as a Smart Marketing Tool”
Presented by Rita Cummins Sappenfield (Business Consultant)
Get Acquainted With Your Chamber - Presented by the Member Recruitment & Retention Committee
Wednesday, March 26 3:30 pm @ Kings Caterers
“Trip to Harrisburg - 7:00-9:00 pm Tuesday, April 29
Presented by the Legislative Action Committee
Educational and fun!
Career Women on the Move Wednesday, May 14 8:30 am - 1:30 pm @ Sheraton Bucks County Hotel
Presented by the Small Business Committee
Golf Outing Monday, June 2 @ Northampton Valley Country Club
Presented by the Golf Outing Committee
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION - Paul Salvatore
Mr. Salvatore reported the Economic Structuring Committee met that morning and discussed the website, including links they would like to see included on the site. He said that they would like to meet other groups to coordinate efforts.
NEWTOWN BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION - Linda Mitchell
Ms. Mitchell reported that their recognition meeting was well attended, and noted that Mr. Salvatore had received a Community Service Award. Shannon Wilson received the President’s Award. She said that their meetings are held the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:30 am; the next meeting will be held at the Brick Hotel. Ms. Mitchell said that the April Business Education Forum was upcoming, the annual Welcome Day celebration was scheduled for May 17th, and the Car Show would be held on June 7th.
Ms. Dunleavy asked if the Council wished to pursue the community map project. Previous experiences were discussed, and Mr. Terry said that the Council might wish to consider doing the project itself. Mr. Harwood suggested that the secretary ask the map company if the Council could receive a percentage of the profits; it was suggested that someone might need to check the legality of the township receiving such funds. Mr. Weaver said he would look into it. It was suggested that it was perhaps problematic for the BDC to utilize the maps as a fundraiser, and that perhaps the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation might be interested. Ms. Dunleavy will take the project idea to the JDNC.
Ms. Dunleavy said that a potential speaker had been referred to her through the Manager’s office: Michael Bannon, new director of the Bucks County Department of Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures. The group felt he would be a good speaker; Ms. Dunleavy will contact him about speaking at the April meeting.
Knox Lock Boxes
Don Harris described the Knox Lock Boxes, which would give the Fire Department access in case of emergency when no one is present at the property concerned. He said he would like the supervisors to pass a resolution to require lock boxes at businesses and multi-tenant buildings. Mr. Harris said that the Board of Supervisors wanted feedback from the BDC regarding this issue.
Mr. Harris said that any liability involving access or possible damage to a property as a result would be the responsibility of the fire department. He described the communication system which unlocks a box where an access key(s) would be located, protecting the security of access keys which would in turn enable emergency personnel to enter a property to investigate an emergency. He said there is one master key per municipality, and that all administrative issues go through the Knox Company, and that the system is already in place with them. No penalty for not complying with any requirement to have lock boxes has been discussed. Mr. Harris said this would involve approximately 400-500 lock boxes, and explained the ordering process.
Mr. Worthington moved that the Business Development Council support the ordinance requiring the Knox Box system in all businesses in Newtown Township and the Borough of Newtown. Mr. Byelich seconded; the motion carried unanimously.
Conditional Use Process
Mr. Terry said he has raised the issue with the Planning Commission, and that they suggested that the entire process be reviewed. It has been suggested that the newly formed Economic Development Task Force might be in a position to review and study the process; Mr. Weaver said this would be a good part of the task force’s work. Mr. Purscell suggested that the Task Force review the process and make recommendations to be circulated for comment to the BOS and other committees and organizations. Mr. Harris said that the BDC should have input on the issue. Mr. Purscell also suggested that the Task Force might form a group to speak to businesspersons contemplating coming to Newtown.
Mr. Salvatore said that zoning determines availability of property for business and noted that there was confusion about where someone would go or who he or she would speak to determine zoning or inquire about zoning changes. Mr. Lambros felt that the conditional use process takes too long, and that flexibility was important. Mr. Salvatore noted that the process was predicated on the scenario 30 years ago and that it needs to be re-evaluated. Mr. Purscell said that care needed to be taken with the types of development and impact of building height, impervious surface, etc. in the Industrial Park. Mr. Terry said that Tri-State Engineers had looked at the drainage issue and had found ways to handle storm water and drainage.
Mr. Weaver said that the Economic Development Task Force planned to do a lot of “out of the box” creative thinking. He said that the remaining four positions on the task force would be filled soon, and that Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino may take an advisory position. Mr. Terry noted that the Task Force should communicate with the BDC. Mr. Byelich suggested that perhaps there should be a liaison from the BDC to the Task Force; it was noted that Mr. Terry was a member of the Task Force. Mr. Weaver said that the Economic Development Task Force would be looking at planning, zoning, building and other issues in the Industrial Park.
Mr. Harwood explained that all ordinance and zoning changes needed to go back to the Planning Commission, and that a number of items listed on his business development report involved a short approval time. He said that most delays occur when there is no clear plan for a project presented by the developer.
Mr. Terry said he would like more authority given for administrative approvals, and asked if the conditional use process was still necessary. He said that the process is very expensive and customers are lost, noting that other municipalities do not require the process. Mr. Harwood said that there are political and technical aspects to the issue; the political process results in the discovery of technical difficulties later. He said that Codes/Zoning is the first step to determine what is required by the owner/developer. He said that one needed to distinguish decision and process. Mr. Harwood explained that the Codes Committee is not involved with zoning. Mr. Terry suggested that they might handle use by rights issues, and that the committee’s authority could be expanded. Mr. Purscell said that expanding rights of use could be more efficient; Mr. Worthington said whatever is done should be done quickly.
Mr. Purscell said that the township could appear to be friendlier to business. Mr. Byelich said he would like to hear more commitment by the Supervisors to bringing in business.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 3, 2003 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM. The cost is $10; please RSVP by April 1, 2003 to the recording secretary (contact information is included on the attached agenda.
ADJOURNMENT: On motion by Mr. Salvatore, and without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 1:45 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary