The public hearing on the Crossroads Town Center, a 750,000 square foot retail, hotel and office complex a developer is seeking to build at the intersection of Routes 17 and 287, was postponed Monday night. Originally scheduled to be heard in front of the township’s planning board late last year, this is the second time the proceeding has been pushed back.
The delay came after township engineer Mike Kelly asked that the developer provide additional traffic information to the board. “Traffic is a major component of this application,” he said. Kelly said he twice requested the developer include additional traffic information during his review of the mall application, but did not receive it. “The traffic data would need to be added before [our engineering firm, Boswell Engineering] can finish our review and recommend the board hear this application,” he explained.
The requested components are details on what roadway improvements the developer would propose in the area surrounding the shopping center. The application contained suggestions for where improvements would be made, but not proposals on what exactly should be done to those roads.
The board unanimously agreed with Kelly, and asked the developer to provide the requested information in a timely manner so the hearing can begin in February.
Jim Jaworski, the Crossroads attorney, said he was “disappointed” that the board refused to hear other components of the site plan Monday that “do not have to do with traffic. Traffic is an important part of this application and there will be extensive traffic testimony at a future meeting.”
Though it didn’t happen Monday night, the planning board did decide that the hearing will proceed. The Committee to Stop Mahwah Mall, a resident group suing the township in an effort to stop the development, requested the board rule the application was not within its purview to hear. A superior court judge Friday dismissed the board’s request for a special judgment advising it on a new state law’s applicability to this case, and whether or not it precluded the board from hearing the Crossroads application.
Board attorney Peter Scandariato said the dismissal does not mean that the board can refuse to hear the application. “It is not within this board’s power to interpret state statute,” he said. The ultimate decision on the application’s fate will likely be made in court, as pending lawsuits question the validity of Mahwah zoning laws that were changed several times last year to allow for, then not allow for, the retail development. “Though we may waste some time [and some money] hearing this while we wait for the court’s decision, it is my recommendation at this time that the board hear the application.”
Most of the 50 or so residents at the public hearing were not happy with that decision. “We are disappointed that the board decided to hear this,” CSMM member Susan Chin said. “The board could have said they weren’t going to hear it.”
The new hearing date is tentatively scheduled for February 13.