During the ongoing Planning Board review of the township’s Master Plan, the board discussed possible recommendations for the best use of the Crossroads property at the intersection of Routes 17 and 287.
The board is in the process of critiquing a preliminary plan put together by Burgis Associates Planner Brigitte Bogart. The plan, which purports to lay out a vision for the future of Mahwah, will go through several updates and revisions before it enters a series of public hearings.
Bogart called the Master Plan the “most appropriate place” for the board to comment about what it would like to see at the Crossroads site. The plot, which she called “one of the largest vacant lots” in the township, is currently zoned for office space. In March, the zoning was changed to allow for retail, but was reverted back to its original office space zoning in September.
A site plan application for a 750,000-square-foot retail complex was submitted to the township one day before the zoning was reversed. The Planning Board is set to begin public hearings on that application in January. However, questions about the timing of the application’s submission have led the planning board to seek a declaratory judgment on the development from the county superior court.
“Whatever zoning ends up being there, the [Master Plan] is the place to make sure that any future zoning changes to the area are in line with what you want,” Bogart said Monday night. “We know that office space doesn’t work, and there are questions about retail, so this is the time for the board to think about what it wants.”
Though the board did not make a concrete definition as to what should be included in the Master Plan, Board Member and Town Council Liaison Chuck Jandris suggested a hospital or medical facility might be the best use for the space. Jandris, who is also a volunteer ambulance worker, said “it took me an hour to drive down [Route] 17, to get to the Hackensack University Medical Center. It’d be nice if we could have something there.”
According to Bogart, the current office zoning allows for medical and dental clinics, “but that would need to be expanded if the board would want to recommend a full-fledged hospital go in that space."
Though the plan will contain only recommendations, and not any firm laws, Burgis officials say once finished, the plan can be used to justify development decisions in Mahwah. The board said public suggestions will be taken once this review process is over, and hearings begin.
This Master Plan overhaul is the first one the township has commissioned since 1989. In addition to providing recommendations, the current conditions of the town are being updated in the document.