At its February 17 special meeting, the Hopewell Township Planning Board met to hear the application of BeiGene Hopewell Urban Renewal. This discussion was continued from the January 27 Regular Planning Board meeting.
Planning Board Attorney Frank Linnus told the Board that this was an application for preliminary and final site plan approval. “The public hearing commenced on January 27; it was limited at that time to a request for waivers from the submission checklist, and the Board did grant the waivers, rescheduling the meeting for tonight,” he said.
Michael Butler, the attorney for BeiGene Hopewell Urban Renewal, began by telling the Board how unique this project has been for him. “It’s the use. It’s not everyday that, at the end of a land use procedure, the end result is a drug that’s going to be used to fight cancer. The goal of the company is to eradicate cancer,” said Butler.
Butler also touched on the revitalization of the former Bristol Myers Squibb campus. “When BMS left this site, there was a hole and the town was nervous about what was going to come in, this project is going to fill it,” said Butler. BeiGene purchased the 42-acre former BMS campus on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road last fall with plans to develop its new manufacturing campus.
The meeting was turned over to Bill Novotny, who is a 40-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry and Senior Vice President of Technical Operations & Manufacturing at BeiGene.
Novotny gave the Board a brief introduction about the project and company. “We believe that high quality, innovative, and impactful medicines can be made faster, more efficiently and be made more affordable around the world,” he said.
Novotny began his presentation with a shocking statistic — 10 million people will die of cancer this year, making it the second leading cause of death globally. 70 percent of those deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries around the world.
“We believe we can change that. Cancer has no borders and neither do we,” said Novotny. He shared with the Board that he is a survivor himself, making his passion for the project personal.
The mission of BeiGene is to focus on patients first through advanced science and affordability. “We want to disrupt the biotech industry, creating impactful medicines that’ll be more affordable and accessible,” said Novotny.
Novotny proceeded by giving a virtual tour of the facility to the Board, pointing out all the different buildings and their future uses to the company.
“It seems as though it is like a manufacturing assembly line, you grow it in one module building and then you move it over to the next module where it gets put into vials, then it goes to a warehouse for storage, then distributed,” Butler pointed out. Novotny agreed, explaining how precise and automated the process is.
Board Chair Karen Murphy asked whether any hazardous chemicals or materials were being dispensed or distributed throughout the campus.
Novotny explained that they have been working very closely with the Township’s fire marshal and that everything has been identified. He added that they plan to give the fire chief full visibility to the site where materials are stored.
“We have a high commitment to safety, we see it as our top priority to make sure that our employees come into a safe environment,” said Novotny.
The BeiGene Hopewell Urban Renewal application will continue at the next Planning Board meeting on February 24.
If you rely on MercerMe for your local news, please support us.
To keep the news coming, we rely on support from subscribers and advertising partners. Hyperlocal, independent, and digital — MercerMe has been providing Hopewell Valley its news since 2013. Subscribe today.