The Committee to Stop Mahwah Mall, a resident group suing the township in an effort to invalidate ordinance changes that would allow for a shopping center to be built on Route 17 in Mahwah, took their cause one step further this week, with the circulation of a petition for a non-binding ordinance referendum.
“All we really want is for the peoples’ opinions on this project to be heard through a non-binding referendum,” said Michael Richards, one of the group’s organizers.
“Since the town council refused our requests for that, we are now trying to get it on the November ballot ourselves.”
The petition, according to Hackensack lawyer Michael Kates, the lawyer handling the suit, will achieve that goal if the group can get 10 percent of the registered voters in the township, or just under 1600 people, to sign the petition.
“The last petition we submitted was deemed invalid by the town clerk,” Richards said.
“Although we are contesting that decision in our lawsuit, we want to make sure this one is done right. We are having notaries verify the signatures, and we have basically the rest of the summer to go door to door to gather signatures.”
According to Kates, so long as all legally-outlined procedures are followed by the CSMM, the referendum will appear on the ballot this November.
“The Council would have no option, it is mandated by law to pass the resolution on to the county clerk after it is submitted and the signatures are verified,” he said.
Even if the referendum does appear on the ballot, the results of the vote wouls have no impact on the ordinances in question, which would allow for the building of the Crossroads Town Center, and were approved by the town council March 31.
“It does not nullify the ordinances. It just surveys the community,” Kates, who drafted the petition, said.