Planning Board Will Seek Court's Advice On Mall Application
"Time of Application" law has not yet been tested in courts
Mahwah’s Planning Board is seeking a superior court judge’s opinion on legal questions surrounding the Crossroads shopping center. At its Monday night meeting, the board passed a resolution allowing its attorney, Peter Scandariato, to seek a declaratory judgment from the superior court regarding the state’s "time of application" law and it's applicability to the crossroads application.
The new law, Scandariato said, says the law in place when a developer submits a site plan is the law that application is subject to. However there has been, "no case law, to my knowledge" to explain how the law should be implemented, he said.
Since the developer filed the plan for the “Crossroads Town Center” one day before the town council repealed the zoning ordinances allowing for it, there have been questions about how the law would be applied in this case.
At its last meeting, the planning board was asked by members of the Committee to Stop Mahwah Mall to consider seeking a declaratory judgment or to refuse the application outright.
The latter option, Scandariato said Monday, would be the "worst thing we could do as a planning board." He said if the board took no action on the application, it would be approved, as is, by default 95 days after it was deemed complete, according to municipal land use law. Township zoning officer Gary Montroy deemed it complete September 6.
The decision, the board said, would clarify the affects of the “time of application” law, its applicability to Crossroads, and if there are any exceptions to the law. Scandariato said the decision to ask a judge for this was made because of concerns shared by the board and residents.
“I want to thank the board for the decision it made tonight,” Mike Richards, one of the CSMM leaders, said.
Scandariato said the declaratory judgment is an “expedited process,” but how long it will take to get an answer back from the judge “depends on the court.”