The following boards, commissions and position are mandated by the Pennsylvania Borough Code. Their duties and responsibilities defined in law.
The Council of New Britain Borough is a body of seven elected officials who serve without compensation. The role of Council is to oversee all activities of the Borough, including the management of Borough employees. Council is responsible for making policy, passing ordinances, approving contracts and agreements, voting appropriations, approving all personnel decisions, and establishing and maintaining the Borough’s budget.
Although this is an elected position, if a Council member resigns in mid-term Council is required to appoint an interim member until the next election. Council members elect a President among themselves who is responsible for presiding over Council meetings, establishing committees, and appointing committee chairs. There is also a Vice-President, who presides over Council meetings in the absence of the President. Borough Council is required to meet once a month, and record all proceedings. Council meetings are at 7:30 PM on the second Tuesday of the month.
The New Britain Borough Planning Commission, an advisory board to the Borough Council, consists of seven appointed members. The commission members serve without compensation. They provide guidance and advice on planning and land use issues within the borough. They meet the third Tuesday of nearly every month to transact the business of the commission. State laws, including the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (Act 247), requires the planning commission review plans of proposed land development as well as sub-division of existing tax parcels. In addition, the Planning Commission develops and recommends to Borough Council the Borough Open Space Plan and Borough Comprehensive Plans. The Planning Commission has a professional planning consultant, a municipal engineer, and a code enforcement person to provide guidance and technical knowledge to the Commission members. There are no vacancies at the present time so interested residents can put their names on a waiting list.
Zoning Hearing Board
The Zoning Hearing Board meets at Borough Hall, 56 Keeley Avenue, on the third Thursday of the month if a case is scheduled. The board is a judicial body composed of five voting members and two alternates, who serve without compensation, all appointed by Borough Council. Its hearings are open to the public and the proceedings are similar to any judicial court. The Board's main function is to hear cases appealed from decisions of the zoning officer. The board may uphold the zoning officer's decision or may allow a variance or special exception regarding the case in question.
The Board’s role is to apply the Borough's Zoning Ordinances to the facts of the case before it and, on occasion, to interpret the terms of the Zoning Ordinances. The ZHB is not permitted to ignore or rewrite the Zoning Ordinances, which can only be done by Borough Council. The ZHB is bound by the Zoning Ordinances before it and must apply the terms of the Zoning Ordinances as written or interpret the intent of the Zoning Ordinances when an interpretation is at issue. The ZHB has no power whatsoever to alter the ordinance. That is a legislative function and can only be performed by Borough Council. The ZHB will generally not accept testimony or evidence involving policy or why someone thinks the Zoning Ordinances are wrong or should have been written differently. That evidence or testimony is irrelevant to the ZHB's role and therefore is not appropriate testimony and typically will not be permitted. The ZHB does not enforce the Zoning Ordinances or violations or even its own decisions. That is the job of the Borough's Zoning Officer and Borough Council. Once the ZHB makes its decision, its role at the Borough level is complete. The ZHB has their own lawyer familiar with the zoning law, who advises the board on the legal issues involved. There are no vacancies at the present time but interested residents can put their names on a waiting list.
Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator
The Borough Emergency Management Team has the day-to-day responsibility of coordinating emergency management programs and activities. And most emergencies are handled at the local level without State or Federal assistance. This person will work closely with all the emergency response managers to collectively prepare for and respond to the community emergencies, take action to alleviate the effects of a disaster (natural or man-made), aid in the restoration of services, and take other emergency response actions as deemed necessary. This requires some training (will be provided) and also has the Emergency Management Coordinator for support. Routine duties are to review and update the emergency response plan every year, forming and maintaining interagency bonds of mutual aid and cooperation, and to advise and help implement the planning and coordination for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery from all disasters. There are no vacancies at the present time, but interested residents can put their name on a waiting list
Board of Appeals
This involves actions involving disputes over the interpretation of the International Building Code which governs construction in the Borough. Examples of appeals might be where the Borough Code officials issued a Stop work order, and the contractor wishes to appeal the order. The Board has not met in years. Five members serve on the board.
Civil Service Commission
The police are the only persons covered by the Civil Service Commission. A new Civil Service Commission has been created for the Central Bucks Regional Police Commission. New Britain Borough is in need of a volunteer to serve on the Central Bucks Regional Police Department Civil Service Commission. The Civil Service Commission is responsible for personnel issues concerning the CBRPD. If you are interested please email Marie Esher Coia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Space Committee
This committee has three members including a borough council member. They periodically review and re-write the Open Space Plan. They work with the Planning Commission and Borough Council to help plan for the future. There are no vacancies at the present time interested residents can put their names on a waiting list.
The following committees have been set up to assist Council in specific areas.
Historic Preservation Committee
The New Britain Borough Historic Preservation Committee was formed in 2005 to create a framework for a positive coexistence between the past and future. The Committee surveyed historic properties in the borough and encouraged Borough Council to pass a Historic Overlay Zone which provides control over demolition of our historic buildings. The Committee’s mission is to preserve our historic properties and artifacts and to enhance citizen enjoyment of our history through public education and access. They sponsor at least two educational events per year including Wreaths Across America ceremony, an informational evening about researching deeds, a Civil War Veteran reenactor, and a speaker discussing Forest Park to name a few. They renovated and restored the H. Walter Harvey World War I Memorial on South Tamenend Avenue in 2012 with volunteer labor and donations from the community. 2013 is the 100th anniversary of the Borough Hall at 56 Keeley Avenue so they are celebrating by researching the property and the Library and Literary Society who built it. They are planning a few events to commemorate this anniversary. Membership is opened to unlimited volunteers.
Community and Business Committee
The Community & Business Committee is a new committee which met for the first time in January 2012. It is comprised of business professionals, residents and borough officials working together to enhance the experience of living in New Britain. They are trying to achieve this by creating an environment that attracts targeted businesses, promotes our current businesses, and improves the look of the borough. The Executive Director of the Bucks County Planning Commission, Lynn Bush, and the Vice President of Student Affairs from Delaware Valley College, John Brown, are also on the committee. They meet in the evening on the second Thursday of each month in the borough administration building. There are no vacancies at the present time but interested residents and businesses can put their names on a waiting list.
Hike and Bike Committee
The Bike and Hike committee was formed several years ago to write a Bike and Hike plan, which is now part of the Boroughs Planning documents. As a result, whenever land development takes place, if the Bike and Hike plan crosses that property, the Planning Committee includes it in the land development. However, the Bike and Hike Plan is not a static document. For example, the plan envisioned locating a path on the SEPTA rail right-of-way. The cost was prohibitively expensive, so the plan needs to be revised to find alternate ways. Similarly, the Borough is beginning to implement the plan, with a grant to go from the train station to Butler Avenue and a B & H connector from Spring Lake drive to New Britain Drive. The time commitment is 4-5 meetings per year, usually in the evening. A copy of the B&H plan is on the Borough Website. There is one vacancy on the Hike & Bike committee.
Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve Committee
The Borough owns the Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve, originally 26 acres, and now over 30 acres along the Neshaminy Creek and the meadow and home donated by Miriam Groner. This committee serves as a caretaker for the Preserve. Funding for the Nature Preserve involves some taxpayer funds, but mostly from the income from the Mathews-Groner house rental income and Miriam Groner’s bequest for the Preserve. The Nature Preserve Committee consists of eight volunteers who oversee the preserve, do the planning and some of the maintenance. This committee meets monthly, as well as doing some work from home, or in the preserve. The Nature Preserve Committee meets in the Borough office conference room at 7:30 PM, the Monday evening before the Borough Council meeting. Currently there is one vacancy on the committee.
Friends of the Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve
This is a much larger group, who help out on projects, work days and such events. For example, we are adding quite a number of signs to the preserve, and we need persons with woodworking skills, as well as help installing signs and benches. Members range from amateur gardeners to persons with a general appreciation of the outdoors. The time commitment varies with the interest of the individual. This committee is opened to unlimited volunteers.
Miriam’s Meadow Committee
Is an ad hoc group to plan, plant and maintain Miriam’s meadow. The meadow consists of a little over an acre on Landis Mill Road which has been planted with over 70 species of plants. Members of this committee plan the development of the meadow, and implement those plans. Meadow maintenance is by both volunteers and professional help. The time commitment is ten monthly meetings, and some design signage, etc, others who enjoy gardening with others, volunteer a lot or a little to help out in ± 3 hour stints doing gardening chores. The meadow committee meets in committee member’s homes, usually in the evenings, and some Saturday mornings in the Meadow. This committee is opened to unlimited volunteers.
Founder’s Day Event
This is an exciting activity that you could get involved with at its inception. The Borough is forming a committee to establish an annual community event to be held in the Town Center Shopping Center in May or June of each year. We see this event as a way to draw the community together, to highlight our local businesses, showcase the talents of our residents, and educate the community about the history of our borough. We are calling it the “Founder’s Day” because New Britain Borough was “founded” in May 1928. This committee is opened to unlimited volunteers.
Youth Aid Panel
When a juvenile commits a criminal offense for the first time, the arresting police officer has two options: The juvenile offender can be formally charged and referred to court, or the juvenile can be referred to the police department’s Youth Aid Panel. For some juveniles, Youth Aid is a better option. To be eligible for acceptance into a Youth Aid Panel, the juvenile must not dispute his/her involvement in the offense. The arresting police department and the juvenile offender's parents must also agree that Youth Aid is the best choice. New Britain Borough and New Britain Township appoint members to the Youth Aid Panel, with the assistance of local officials, following a careful screening process. The Panel members are qualified representatives of our local communities who are active in the welfare of juveniles. The panel is not empowered to act as a Judge or Jury in deciding guilt or innocence. The panel assigns community service, restitution and apology letters, as it may apply. There are no vacancies at the present time but interested residents can put their names on a waiting list.
New Britain Civic Association
The New Britain Civic Association, formed in 1953, is a non-profit, non-political organization, independent of the Borough which, since 1957, has owned and operated the 14 acre Covered Bridge Park on Keeley Avenue. Though the park has become the major focus of the Association in recent years, and it is still a very important focus of their organization, it also sponsors other community activities such as hosting astronomical events and Christmas Tree Lighting. They also provide an annual Picnic in the Park and Duck Derby to help acquaint everyone with the park and what they do. The Association meets every third Monday of the month at 7:30 PM in the New Britain Borough office. Civic is always looking for volunteers.
If anyone would like to create an opportunity based on his or her skills that are currently not available please advise us. Some examples are checking in on the elderly and disabled, art or music club, travel club, cooking club, etc. Anything that would enhance our community would be welcomed.