After about a year of controversy in the township over what types of developments should be allowed at the Crossroads property surrounding the Mahwah Sheraton Hotel, the township planning board Monday night decided its original zoning would be best.
The conclusion came as a result of ongoing discussion about Mahwah’s new Master Plan, a document that outlines the future development goals of a municipality. The planning board is in the process of completely updating its Master Plan for the first time since 1989.
The Crossroads Property has been a source of debate amongst township officials and residents since a town council decision last year that changed its zoning from one that only permitted office space, to one that allowed for a major retail development. There is currently an application before the board for a 600,000-square-foot shopping center that includes small, pedestrian-friendly shops, a movie theater and two box stores.
After several months of public outcry against the project, the council voted to change the zoning of the property back to its original status, which allowed office space. A collection of pending lawsuits will determine whether or not the retail zoning will hold.
In the meanwhile, the planning board said it will make recommendations about the property in the Master Plan regardless of the current Crossroads application. “This is a document that considers the future, not the present,” board member and town councilman Chuck Jandris said. “If, for whatever reason, Crossroads doesn’t happen, we will recommend what we want to see developed in that space.”
Board attorney Peter Scandariato said the recommendation in the master plan “doesn’t affect the decision [on the proposed Crossroads development] at all. If the courts should decide the rezoning was inappropriate, or if this board denies the [mall’s] application and that is upheld, that will affect it.”
After discussion over the past few months, the board decided the site’s original zoning – for an office complex – is the most appropriate for its future. The Master Plan will recommend developing an office, medical or professional complex at the site. The board also suggested that indoor recreation centers, like an ice rink, be allowed there.
The recommendation also pertains to the adjacent property that currently houses Sharp Electronics. In the future, should Sharp vacate the property, a new zoning law would be needed to develop anything but an office complex on that land.
The board noted that should the current Crossroads plan not come to fruition, the planning board should reexamine its Master Plan recommendation regarding the property.