Solar Panels, Bike Paths Among Future Sustainability Suggestions
Environmental Commission says new component of township's Master Plan may help make Mahwah more environmentally-aware
The township’s new Master Plan, which is designed to detail an ideal development plan for at least the next ten-plus years, may be used in the future to make Mahwah a more environmentally-conscious community, Environmental Commission Chair Richard Wolf said at a planning board meeting discussing the plan’s revision Monday night.
The township’s Master Plan is undergoing its first complete revision since 1989. Mahwah has been compiling and revising Master Plans since 1975, however the current proposed version is the first to create sustainability standards in the township, the board said. “The rest of the [new] Master Plan is updating concepts that were already there," Planning Board Chairman Todd Sherer said. “The sustainability aspect is completely new.”
The Master Plan, a 130-page document covering land use, traffic, historic preservation and an inventory of the township’s current environmental
landmarks and community facilities, does not contain any laws. Instead, it
outlines ideals and suggestions that government bodies can use as a guide when making future decisions. According to Wolf, the Environmental Commission is anxious to have a sustainability standard to turn to. “We would love to use this as an opportunity to do some really positive things for the community and for the environment,” he told the Planning Board Monday night.
The document outlines several sustainability goals and objectives, and suggested developments for the future of Mahwah. Among other ideas, the document suggests Mahwah:
- Make energy efficiency a “high priority for the township” through building improvements and the installation of energy-efficient lighting and other technologies in township buildings. It suggests installing solar panels on township buildings and encouraging private business owners in Mahwah to do the same.
- Encourage non-automobile transportation methods; the document suggests improving sidewalks and bicycling paths in Mahwah, adopting
an anti-idling ordinance, and increasing residents’ use of public transportation, among other methods.
- Maintain the township’s open space as much as possible. It suggests reviewing the township’s layout each year to determine potential spots
for park development. The document also asks the township to promote green spaces by replacing and maintaining trees.
- Look into the possible development of a farmer’s market in Mahwah.
- Create policies that will reduce the township’s water consumption.
- Limit development in areas of steep slopes, floodplains, wetlands, and areas that are home to endangered or threatened species.
- Encourage the development of green buildings.
- Create community education and outreach programs to promote sustainability.
Wolf said he’d like to use the document to support Environmental Commission proposals in the township. He used the installation of solar panels on township facilities as an example of an “improvement I’d love to see…I think it would be good for the environment, and save the township money on energy costs in the long run.”
The current revision of the Master Plan, which former township planner Burgis Associates has been putting together and reworking based on Planning Board commentary for the past two years, is “just about done,” Sherer said Monday. Before the board can adopt the new plan for the township’s future, Burgis' firm must submit a final draft, and the board must hold a public hearing on the document.
Monday night, the board decided to hold the public hearing on the Master Plan on September 10, to give the board and the public enough time to review the final document. After some discussion, the board decided to hold the hearing in September, so that summer vacations don’t interfere with resident involvement with the review process.
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