April 14, 2016 Community and Business Committee Notes

Taken By: Sam Bryant

Call to Order

Present: Jeff Gilmore (Co-Chair), Margaret Remmey (Vice Chair), Andrea Antell, Steve Barth, Sam Bryant, Debbie Byrne, Steve Giesler, David Holewinski

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance at 7:30PM.

Mr. Gilmore began the meeting by noting that with the Mixed Use Ordinance approved and the Butler Ave. Study nearly completed, the committee should consider moving to support action items from those plans.  Those present agreed with this strategy.

Design/Review Guidelines

Mr. Barth requested to speak on an item not present on the agenda in regards to architectural designs.

As the MUO allows the Borough to exercise architectural review power over properties in the overlay, Mr. Barth thought the Borough should proactively produce suggestions for developers, instead of only reacting to submitted plans.

He provided a document from Doylestown Borough that accomplishes those goals.

Mr. Holewinski suggested that the Chair of the Planning Commission could assign someone to work with Mr. Barth and the CBC in creating such a document.  For landscaping portions, Ms. Antell will follow up with Bird Town Chair Tom Price for information.

Delaware Valley University Transition

Mr. Bryant gave a recap of meetings the Borough has had with Delaware Valley, most notably and recent with the Board of Trustee’s Facilities Committee.  These meetings have focused on explaining the Butler Ave Study goals and “University Village” concept, which received positive response.

In addition, there have been conversations about partnering on a Business Incubator.  Delaware Valley University has wanted to create such a program, but needed an appropriate building/space to host it.  They are interested in the now vacated first floor of Burkart Hall, and are drafting a proposal for the Borough to review.

Mr. Gilmore asked Mr. Bryant if the Borough Historic Preservation Committee agreed to this plan as they had previous interest in the space.  Mr. Bryant said he had mentioned the idea, but had not noted that Delaware Valley was making a proposal.

Mr. Bryant said he would reach out to the Historic Preservation Committee to explain the Business Incubator and offer shelving/space on the 2nd floor of Burkart Hall and the Admin Office to display items.  Mr. Barth offered to find the cost/design for a proper archival space in the Admin Office basement to properly store items when not being displayed.

New Businesses in the Borough

Mr. Barth noted this year that the Borough added a Verizon store and Dog Town, that Rissi’s, Fretz’s and the Duck Deli had been sold to developers, and that the Newton House was currently for sale.

Mayor Holewinski suggested the Borough design an appropriate procedure to welcome new businesses.  

Mr. Bryant suggested that Mr. Barth would note when a new business was opening.  He and Mr. Bryant would then set a date/time for an opening ceremony.  Borough Council, Mayor, the Chalfont-New Britain Business Alliance and the media would be invited to this ceremony that would feature a proclamation and ribbon cutting.  Ms. Byrne offered to supply the scissors and ribbon for the event.  After the event, Mr. Bryant would direct staff to post it on Borough social media.

Butler Ave Streetscape

Mr. Gilmore noted that he thought the CBC could help direct the Borough with the procurement and placement of streetscape items.

Mr. Gilmore noted that the CBC had already made a decorative streetlight design proposal to Borough Council that had been approved.

Mr. Bryant was asked to speak with PECO and the Borough Engineer about the placement and construction timing (with the sidewalk project) of decorative streetlights.  Mr. Barth stated he would look into possible grant funding for the streetlights, notably the Multi-Modal program.

Mr. Gilmore then suggested the committee could also pick a bench design, akin to how they made a streetlight design suggestion.

Mayor Holewinski and Mr. Barth volunteered to work on bench design and placement.

Mr. Barth asked about contacting Federal Realty about benches and streetlights.

Mr. Bryant was asked to schedule a meeting for Borough officials to discuss the current state of the property.

Ms. Remmey asked about painting the electrical boxes in the area, similar to the proposal from Ocean City she presented at an earlier meeting.

Mr. Barth volunteered to provide Ms. Remmey with artist contacts.  Mr. Bryant volunteered to provide Ms. Remmey with a PECO contact or information for such a project.  Ms. Remmey will then organize the required individuals to make it happen.

Ms. Antell volunteered to look into a design for bike racks and possible locations for placement.

Mr. Bryant was asked to contact Google to have the Borough added to its Google Earth 3D, to aid in future engineering/design projects.

Meeting Frequency

The committee agreed to resume meeting monthly after the TCDI Public Hearing in May, with the next meeting on June 9th.  The committee will continue to meet at its current start time of 7:30PM.

Blighted Properties

Prior to adjournment, the committee discussed general property façade improvement in the Borough.

It was noted that Act 70 could play a role, in addition to blight ordinances passed by the Borough.

Mayor Holewinski volunteered to look into the impact of such laws on development/revitalization.  He also would look into programs such as Habitat for Humanity’s “Brush with Kindness” to provide low-cost programs for residents to renovate properties.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 9:19PM.