The Crossroads developer will be back in front of the Mahwah Planning Board next month with a more specific security plan for the facility, as board members called a preliminary plan for security at the proposed shopping center presented this week, “bare bones.”
At a session of the board’s ongoing preliminary site plan approval hearing for the complex Monday night, Crossroads representatives explained the security requirements in the township ordinance allowing for the development.
According to Jim Jaworski, the attorney for the developer proposing a 600,000 square foot shopping center around the Sheraton Crossroads Hotel, one security guard and one security car are required for the first 250K square feet built. For every 200,000 square feet after that, another security guard must be added.
The guards would handle traffic flow inside the facility’s parking lots, and security management overall of the complex, which is planned to include two box stores, shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. Individual stores would likely hire their own additional security guards to handle in-store issues, Jaworski said.
The lawyer and Ray McGill, the developer’s security expert and a retired Mahwah PD officer, testified Monday that electronic security, like surveillance cameras, will likely be added to the security plan, and said that the combination of “electronic security and physical security,” would be sufficient at the site.
Planning board members questioned the number of security officers, and what they called a lack of specifics in the presentation.
The security parameters outlined in the ordinance, “feel like a bare bones minimum to me,” Planning Board Chair Todd Sherer said. “The [security] seems low.”
Exact security plans are yet to be determined, Jaworski said.
“It’s an operations issue,” he said, and until the center signs on specific tenants that will reveal their own individualized security plans, the overall security plan for the complex will be tentative.
The security guards at Crossroads would mostly manage parking issues, Jaworski said, and would not have arrest powers.
“Their job is to report [any issues that come up] to the police,” he said.
When board members and residents at the hearing questioned what the impact would be on the Mahwah Police Department, Jaworski cited a 2010 memo from Chief Jim Batelli that anticipated two additional police officers being necessary to cover the shopping center.
Batelli’s memo said the additional workload brought on by the development would not be unmanageable, Jaworski said.
There are no plans to install an officer on site at all times, Jaworski said.
Several residents complained the center would put stress on the police department.
“It seems like a constant stream of police being called back and forth,” resident Joey Bourgholtzer said.
However, with the anticipated $2 million in taxes the town is expected to take in from the shopping center, resident Bill Kramer commented that he did not feel the security demand was too severe.
“If [the developer] is going to be paying taxes, they have every right to expect they’ll get services [like police protection],” he told the board.
Still, Sherer requested the developer return next month with a more detailed security plan, and an explanation of what security looks like at other shopping centers that are of a comparable size and make-up.
Jaworski agreed to make an additional presentation, but said that “beyond [showing] that we comport to the ordinance,” actual anticipated plans would be difficult to produce without having tenants for the shops in place.
Crossroads is expected to return to the Planning Board for an additional security hearing July 22.