NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2003
Approval of the Minutes: Mr. Roberts moved to approve the minutes of the December 4, 2003 meeting as presented. Mr. Worthington 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, Paul Salvadore, Joe Moffat, Barbara Anne Fowkes, Lisa Kruse, Evan Lambros, Marge Frederick.
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 November 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.
Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Kruse distributed the flyer and noted upcoming events:
Percolator Program & General Membership Meeting 8:00 AM second Thursday
December 11 @ Middleto wn Country
wn Country Club, Langhorne
Business Card Exchange 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Tuesday, December 9 @ Best Western Hotel N.E. Philadelphia
Sharpen Your Edge Business Seminars 8:00-9:00 AM 1st Tuesdays
January 6, 2004 “5 Steps to Super Profits” A Hand-On Profit Building & Advertising Workshop
Presented by David P. Carter (Action International)
Business Technology Forum Friday, January 9, 2004 8:00-9:00 followed by ½ hour for Q&A
“You Can Take It With You! PDA Solutions for Business
Presented by Mike Connor (DocuTrac) and Mark Bonanni (AT&T Wireless)
Ms. Kruse said that anyone could attend as a guest of the Chamber; registrations may be faxed to the Chamber.
Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation
Ms. Dunleavy reported that the grant had been submitted and they hope to receive approval soon. She said RFP’s for website design and maintenance have been reviewed and interviews with bidders scheduled.
Newtown Business and Professional Association
Mr. Salvadore reported that the association’s holiday meeting would be held next Thursday from 5:00-7:00 at the Brick Hotel. He noted upcoming projects and activities: a welcome wagon project, welcome for businesses to the community, investigation into the possible hiring of an executive director, and the election of officers next month. Mr. Salvatore said that those interested in taking part in the Angel Tree project should contact him. Mr. Salvatore said that NBPA would be sponsoring a Christmas Dinner at the Brick Hotel on December 3, 2003 beginning at 11:30 and said they are looking for volunteers.
Economic Development Task Force
Mr. Weaver reported that the Planning Commission had a special meeting on Tuesday night, and that the Task Force’s recommendations would come to the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 14, 2004. He clarified the Task Force recommendations:
Mr. Weaver said that for all practical purposes the OLI has been eliminated. He said that the Jointure has no objection to these changes, as Newtown Township is the only municipality in the Jointure with an LI district. Mr. Weaver clarified that the Jointure has already approved the changes, contingent upon the approval of the Board of Supervisors. He said that the Joint Planning Commission has been given copies of the recommendations.
Mr. Worthington said he attended the Planning Commission meeting, and that he was worried that they would require additional time for review, thus delaying approval of the Task Force recommendations. Mr. Weaver said he was very confident that the Board of Supervisors would not hold up the approval process, and said that it was on his agenda for January 14, 2004 to have the Task Force’s recommendations approved. He clarified that the Planning Commission meetings are open to the public.
Mr. Weaver said he doesn’t wish to see any projects discouraged at the Business Commons, and said the township is actively working to help new businesses in the Commons. Mr. McCloskey said he was concerned that the public would think that the Business Commons was filling up when there are still vacancies. He said that one problem with the buildings in the Commons was the sometime need to destroy some parts of buildings to get the appropriate impervious surface, and asked when the new impervious surface regulations being considered might apply; Mr. Weaver was unsure of the timeline. Mr. Weaver suggested that any parties interested in the Business Commons should contact the township and someone would speak with them.
Mr. Worthington was concerned over potential delay with Planning Commission review. Several Council members thought that the Board of Supervisors could approve the recommendations regardless of Planning Commissions actions, as the PC is an advisory board.
Mr. Salvadore noted that the Zoning Hearing Board’s job was to grant relief and asked if hardship was a requirement. Mr. Harwood explained that ZHB standards are the same for residential and commercial properties, noting that there are eight to ten elements of hardship in the code. He said that lawyers for businesses usually cite hardship elements, and that residents usually represent themselves. He said that the ZHB usually approves residential issues if they determine that a condition doesn’t adversely affect neighbors or future owners of the property. Mr. Harwood clarified that the ZHB can grant relief from literal and technical interpretations of the municipal ordinances.
Mr. McCloskey asked how zoning issues, such as retention basins, could be changed and how suggestions for such changes could be made. Mr. Worthington suggested bringing up such issues to the Economic Development Task Force. Mr. Harwood noted that the National Code allows for local involvement in setting standards; local interpretations do exist. Mr. Worthington suggested that the Council could make suggestions.
Mr. Worthington presented a study of the Business Commons done by Dan McCloskey, Doug Terry and William Messick, which included information about each parcel including uses, square footage, and taxes. He said that the study found that parking was more than sufficient, and noted the study found that if 65% impervious surface was utilized, four acres of existing green space would be eliminated.
There was discussion regarding the next meeting date, as the first Thursday of January falls on the 1st. Expecting that the Board of Supervisors would vote on the recommendations of the Economic Development Task Force at their meeting on January 14, Mr. Worthington moved to schedule the next Business Development Council meeting on Thursday, January 15, 2004. Mr. Byelich seconded; the motion carried unanimously. Ms. Dunleavy will contact members with the meeting date change.
Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 1:30 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy Recording Secretary