Council recognizes couple for hosting first Black Business Expo in town

Meeting also focuses on outdoor dining and stormwater maintenance

Special to The Sun: Nika and Alban Corbett, creators of Curate Noir, celebrate hosting the first Black Business Expo at the Moorestown and Cherry Hill Malls earlier this year.

Moorestown Township Council hosted its second regular meeting of the month on Aug. 23 and announced that because of rising COVID cases in the state, the meeting would be the last in person session until further notice.

On the agenda were stormwater management and outdoor dining. Council also took time to recognize local businesses. As part of National Black Business Month, Nika and Alban Corbett, owners of Curate Noir in Moorestown, were recognized for hosting the first Black Business Expo at the Moorestown and Cherry Hill malls earlier this year. 

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The couple were cited as powerful advocates for Black-owned businesses, and both addressed the support they have received from the Moorestown community.

“This is a great acknowledgment of the mission that we are trying to put forth to make sure Black-owned businesses and brown-owned businesses are continually supported throughout the course of the year,” Nika said.

Discussed later in the meeting was an ordinance submitted by the Moorestown Environmental Advisory Committee (MEAC) that proposed modifying stormwater management regulations to include minor development. 

The chair of MEAC, Joan Ponessa, defined “minor development” outlined in the ordinance as “any development that results in an increase in impervious surface of 1,000 or more square feet, but does not meet the definition of major development. Minor development includes both private and public projects or activities.”

According to Ponessa, the committee began work on the idea after concerns were raised about stormwater management, specifically in the buildup areas of Moorestown.  As part of its proposed ordinance, MEAC will encourage homeowners to help eliminate stormwater buildup by having stormwater-detention basins on properties that cover  1,000 square feet of land.

Christopher Salvatico, member of MEAC and Moorestown resident, addressed the concerns of both Mayor Nicole Gillespie and Councilman Dave Zipin regarding logistic mitigation strategies in stormwater management for homeowners.

“None of us think that this is going to be the be-all and end-all,” Salvatico said. “This is just one tool in the toolbox to help alleviate an ongoing problem.”

A draft ordinance will be reviewed by the township manager and solicitor and returned to MEAC for further evaluation. Council did not announce an anticipated date for a vote on the ordinance.

In September, council is expected to introduce an ordinance that will permanently allow outdoor dining within Moorestown, without requiring restaurant owners to apply and receive a zoning variance. If the ordinance is passed, new and existing restaurant owners will no longer be required to apply for a variance for outdoor dining, unless the community development department does not agree with some of the conditions.

Council also discussed whether restaurant owners could place outdoor tables in parking spaces that front their restaurants without having to pay a fee for more seating and  for social distancing. Council has yet to make a final decision, but discussed possible options for restaurant owners that include setting up concrete barriers around a  perimeter.

According to members, all township council meetings will be held virtually starting Sept. 13 because of rising local COVID cases. As of last month, there have been 60 reported cases of the virus, with the transmission rate at about 6.5.

“As we fight this virus, it’s important to look at the situation with nuance and understand that it’s an ever-changing thing,” said Councilman Quinton Law. “I do think that it’s right to go virtual at this point in time, but I hope that we can be flexible and monitor the situation.”

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