NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2003
Approval of the Minutes: Mr. Salvatore moved to approve the minutes of the November 6, 2003 meeting as presented. Mr. Roberts seconded; the motion carried unanimously.
Present: Richard Weaver, Chairman; Belinda Buras, Tom Harwood, Hal Roberts, Jim Worthington, Doug Terry, Mark Byelich, Skip Goodnoe, Dan McCloskey, Tom Giglio, Paul Salvadore, Joe Moffat
Call to Order: Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order at 12:05 PM.
Public Comment – None
Codes Department Business Development Report
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for October 2003.
Approval of the Minutes
Mr. Byelich moved to approve the minutes of the October 2, 2003 meeting as presented. Mr. Roberts seconded; the motion carried unanimously.
Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Goodnoe reported that the Chamber had discussed a proposed bill that would force Blue Cross and competitors to rate by census. The Chamber decided not to endorse the bill, feeling that it was better to support competition.
Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation
Mr. Goodnoe reported that they are on the verge of submitting the Main Street Program grant application, and that the Main Street Manager selection committee has met and established criteria for hire and a job description. He said that the “My Favorite Newtown Event” coloring contest continues, and that Promotions Committee is finalizing their Newtown video. Mr. Goodnoe said that four RFP’s for website redesign and maintenance were received, and are being reviewed.
Newtown Business and Professional Association
Mr. Salvadore announced the upcoming Breakfast with Santa. He said the NBPA will conduct a push for new members soon, and that they are working on a Welcome Wagon project to put together information to welcome new businesses and perhaps residents. Mr. Salvadore said it was time that Newtown showed business friendliness. Ms. Dunleavy will check on the number of remaining resident packets.
Mr. Weaver said he and Mr. Pellegrino had gone to meet with the new business people at Liberty to welcome them and communicate information about the township. He and Mr. Pellegrino discussed a packet for new businesses. Mr. Salvadore said a packet would be useful for new businesses and new residents. Mr. Byelich asked if there was a township liaison to greet new businesses; Mr. Weaver said no, but that he and Mr. Pellegrino has spoken about the township regularly contacting new businesses. Mr. Byelich said he would like to be involved. Ms. Dunleavy noted that a New Business Directory produced by Quakertown had been presented by William Maeglin from the Bucks County Economic Development Corporation at the BDC meeting he attended. She said she would give a copy to Mr. Weaver and bring some extra copies to the next meeting.
Economic Development Task Force
Mr. Weaver said that the Task Force meeting had been rescheduled for Tuesday, November 11, 2003, and that they would be discussing the final draft of recommendations to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors at the Board meeting on November 19, 2003. Mr. Weaver said that the Jointure would be meeting tonight and that he would be discussing the Task Force’s recommendations with them; he doesn’t expect any objections from the Jointure. The recommendations will go first to the Board of Supervisors, then to the Planning Commission. Mr. Weaver said that the Planning Commission had been invited to the Task Force meeting on November 11. Task Force recommendations include an increase of impervious surface allowance, change in parking requirements, and the addition of four or five uses by right. Mr. Weaver said they have been working with the township planner, who has endorsed many of the recommendations.
Mr. McCloskey said that when he viewed Planning Commission members speaking at the recent Board of Supervisors meeting he thought they were unsupportive of the recommendation for increased impervious surface and were looking for additional information; Mr. Weaver said he didn’t think that the Planning Commission would object to the increase. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Goodnoe said they thought that the impervious surface recommendation would be approved by the BOS.
There was discussion about the business climate in Newtown. Mr. Salvadore said that, from a commercial realtor standpoint, new businesses are asked to go through a long process, and it seemed that when they finally appeared before the BOS the Board made things difficult. Mr. Weaver said that he is working with Mr. Pellegrino to speak with businesses throughout the process. He said that Mr. Harris is a key person in the process and is also working with business people throughout the process. Mr. Weaver said that when the Fire Marshal’s issues are resolved the process usually goes more smoothly.
Mr. Salvadore said business people are scared of the process because they have heard of people encountering difficulties well into the process; Mr. Weaver said he hoped that meeting with business people to review the process would avoid such difficulties. Mr. Byelich said he has heard that there is a lot of uncertainty in the process, and said that there needed to be a united direction of the BOS towards support of business. Mr. Salvadore said that some of his clients had been afraid that the rules would change in the middle of the process.
Mr. Salvadore said he thought that it was inappropriate for members of the Planning Commission to be identifying themselves as PC members and then giving their own personal opinions, which could be interpreted as the opinion of the Planning Commission.
Mr. Weaver asked Council members to contact Mr. Pellegrino with information about anyone interested in the Business Commons. Medical use in the Commons was discussed. Mr. Weaver said the only one he knew of that had supported the elimination of medical use in the Business Commons was Steve Sanderlin, and that one of the recommendations of the Task Force would be to allow medical use in the LI.
Mr. Byelich asked about the Zoning Hearing Board issue related to Mr. Terry’s project, which was discussed at the BOS meeting. Mr. Weaver said that the township solicitor should have been sent to the original ZHB hearing, and that timing was an issue, since the BOS has not yet approved the impervious surface increase. Mr. Worthington said he felt it was timing and that the issue would be resolved. Mr. Terry said that the ZHB would be presenting a formal decision regarding the impervious surface request at 660 Tudor Square. He noted that it would be useful if the Economic Task Force recommended the increase of impervious surface in the Business Commons before the ZHB appeal. He said that the 9’ x 18’ parking stalls were being requested tonight.
Mr. Byelich said the BOS needed to give some signals that they were willing to do what was necessary to attract business to Newtown. Mr. Goodnoe said that continuity in decisions was important. He noted that the 413 Office Park project was given consideration related to Park and Recreation and Traffic Impact fees because they were cooperative with the township.
Mr. Terry said he was currently working on a project assessing the Business Commons, gathering information from each business, such as county, township and school taxes paid, number of employees, and other statistics. He will then figure the cost of project delays for business owners. He said he might extend the study to the Office Research area.
Mr. Goodnoe noted that business in Newtown is not only good for tax revenue, but also provides jobs and adds to the quality of life, since residents can work closer to home and goods and services are provided nearby. Mr. Harwood said it was important to remember that the township had one of the biggest economic development projects when Lockheed Martin came to Newtown. Mr. Goodnoe agreed, but said that the atmosphere had changed since then.
Ms. Dunleavy will contact Mr. Byelich for contact information for a potential speaker for the next meeting.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 4, 2003 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00PM. The cost is $10.00; please RSVP by December 1, 2003 to the recording secretary (contact information is included on the attached agenda)
Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 1:40 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary