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Commercial Areas Of Mahwah Might Be Exempt From Environmental Protections

But, Fardale's commercial area might still be held to Highlands standards

A section of Mahwah may be exempt from Highlands Council building restrictions if the council accepts a proposal for creating an economic development “center” in the township.

Mahwah’s professional planner David Roberts explained the proposal to the township’s Planning Board Monday night. A center, he said, would designate an area of the township poised for commercial development. Areas in the center would not be subject to building restrictions set out by the Highlands Planning Area guidelines, which the township opted into late last year.

Roberts suggested proposing the Northeast chunk of Mahwah – running from the New York border to the Ramsey border along Route 202 and moving east – as a designated “center.” The area would include the Crossroads property, Franklin Turnpike, Route 17 and Ramapo College, Roberts said. If the Highlands Council accepts the proposal, inconsistencies in the land or mistakes in Highlands mapping systems would not impede future development, he said.

The area inside the proposed center has been designated in the current draft of Mahwah's new Master Plan as the areas of potential future development.

According to Roberts, a discussion about adding a center in the township came up because Ramapo College is working on its Master Plan, which includes a plan for constructing additional dormitory buildings in the future. Planning area restrictions may have prevented or stalled the construction if the college is not included in the center, Roberts said. “That’s what brought up the conversation about centers, and I definitely think it’s worth considering,” Roberts said.

Planning Board members Monday night questioned why a section of Fardale, specifically the area around Leighton Place, could not also be established as a center.

Roberts said creating two centers in one town would be “I believe, unprecedented,” and might be turned down by the Highlands Council. He also questioned whether or not the center designation would be necessary in Fardale, which may be exempt from many of the Highlands protections because it is in a sewered area.

Before submitting a request to the Highlands Council, the board requested Roberts invite Highlands Council leadership to a Mahwah Planning Board meeting to answer some lingering questions about the benefits of creating a center, and whether or not Fardale should or could be included in the designated area. Roberts said officials from Ramapo College would also be invited to the meeting that Highlands Council representatives might attend.

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Andy Schmidt September 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM
"Mahwah – running from the New York border to the Ramsey border along Route 202" Running "along Rt 202" from NY, you don't get to the Ramsey border - you get to Oakland? >> Route 202 and moving east << Except for the Ramapo Mts, ALL of Mahwah is "east of 202" to the Ramsey border. I think it would help the readership if this article included a map showing/shading the proposed area.
Jessica Mazzola (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Hi Andy -- The map I got from the township planner was very difficult to see when I uploaded it to the site. It is basically a triangle, with the NY border as the flat base. One side goes down 202, the other goes down the USR/Ramsey border. The 202 side follows Darlington Ave. until you hit Macarthur Blvd., where the two sides come to a point. I will upload the map again, but it is tough to see when scaled down. Hopefully this explanation helps!
GG September 28, 2012 at 01:01 AM
This plan for a development center is horrible. Why should Mahwah east of 202 get all the development? Franklin Tpk. can't handle the congestion and why leave Fardale out? Did someone from Fardale draft this? If the Crossroads mall doesn't ruin our neighborhoods, this will. How convenient that this area includes the Crossroads property.
Andy Schmidt September 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Hi Jessica - thanks, the map is perfect. I transposed it onto a Google Map and uploaded it now, so that folks can clearly see the ACTUAL areas proposed as the "Commercial" Development Center. Because the fancyful verbal description doesn't do it justice at all. It's very simple - UNLESS you live in the Ramapo Mountain, the ENTIRE HALF of Mahwah that lies "east" of Rio Vista would be "commercial development". Only Rio Vista (of course) and the sections south of it are NOT presumed "commercial" for purposes of the Highlands plan.
Andy Schmidt September 28, 2012 at 02:23 PM
GG - oh don't worry. It's NOT just "east of 202". Basically, only the Polo Club and Rio Vista are not considered "commercial"! But because that would have been way too obvious, they threw in Fardale - even though THAT actually DOES have a designated commercial business/commercial section -- which really shows you how disingenuous this is. The only good thing is that at least the folks on Stag Hill finally catch a break.
Andy Schmidt September 28, 2012 at 04:57 PM
What confuses me about this is that prior information about the Highlands plan had stated that current and future single family developments were ALREADY exempt. Furthermore, I thought the motivation to JOIN the planning portion of the Highlands Council in the first place was because it would be helping the township to PROTECT against undesirable development AND to weigh in when calculating COAH obligations. If both are the case, why would we now want to EXCLUDE half of Mahwah's RESIDENTIAL areas from those precise benefits - and suddenly declare them as "commercial development" (given that single family home owners were already exempted anyhow)?
ref September 28, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Good for you Andy,your not so bad after all
Hank September 28, 2012 at 07:10 PM
my house is in the square if anyone wants to put up a 7/11 or do some fracking give me a call

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