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Crossroads Hearing Starts With Questions About Movie Theater, Box Stores

See proposed layout of 600,000-square-foot development

About 90 residents gathered Monday night to watch the Crossroads Developer make its initial presentation to the township’s planning board in a public hearing on the proposed development that is expected to last at least several months. The developer is planning to build a 600,000-square-foot retail development surrounding the off Route 17.

At the hearing, civil engineer Michael Junghans began a series of testimonies – which will include others from an architect, traffic expert and planer at future meetings - on behalf of the developer. Junghans laid out a more-detailed presentation of what the “Crossroads Town Center” will look like, and answered questions on the development from township engineers and planners, planning board members, and members of the public.

The development, according to Crossroads attorney Jim Jaworski, “is, we believe, completely in accordance with [zoning] ordinance 1684.” That was the land use law in place when the developer currently under review. The ordinance allowed for retail uses, but with certain specifications that “are reflected in the plan,” Jaworski said.

The development has become complex because five months after Mahwah’s town council passed the ordinance, it passed another one . The Crossroads developer for the new shopping complex the day before the council reversed its zoning decision.

According to Junghans, the development can be divided into two distinct sections, a north side and the south side, which will be built on opposing ends of the traffic circle currently in front of the Sheraton. The north side is what Junghans called “pedestrian-friendly with a village or main street feeling,” that is “very walkable.” It contains a 3,000-seat (10 screen) movie theater, several smaller boutiques, shops and restaurants, and one 50,000-sq.-foot larger store. The area is connected by sidewalks, and walking and sitting areas.

The south side is made up of two “big box” stores, of 136 and 147,000-sq.-feet, and two smaller locations, around 26 and 52,000-sq.-feet.

The rear of the property, which borders the Ramapo River, would be turned into a “passive recreation” nature trail, and an athletic field would also be added toward the rear of the site.

According to Jaworski, the specific tenants who would inhabit all of the stores and restaurants have not yet been determined. Several specific factors of the development, such as delivery procedures, hours of operation, trash and recycling procedures, and others, will not be determined until tenancy is secured, he said.

The plan proposes to eliminate the current access road from Route 17 to the traffic circle in front of the Sheraton, and replace it with two others. The three-lane circle will remain the main roadway in the development, and drivers will access the shops and facilities from streets coming off the circle.

The development also includes several detention basins and other water drainage systems designed to manage stormwater drainage. According to Junghans, flooding conditions “will actually be better than they are now” because the water management system would have less water flowing off of the site than currently does. “Water would be retained and then released at a later time,” he said.

The board brought up several concerns about the layout of the development, including the practicality and functionality of an athletic field behind a retail development. According to Jaworski, the field is a requirement of the land ordinance, so moving it to another part of town isn’t an option, unless a change is made to the law.

Board members also questioned whether or not there would be enough parking for moviegoers. According to Tony DiGiovanni, the site’s developer, it is required by the land ordinance to have one space per every 12 seats in the theater, which he said is a “low standard.” The proposed plan has incorporated one spot per every 7.5 seats.

DiGiovanni also said “an agreement could be arranged” to have overflow parkers from the theater park in the existing three-story garage that serves the hotel. However, board members questioned the viability of that plan.

Councilman and Planning Board member Chuck Jandris cited concerns about the box stores fitting in to the rest of the development’s design. “By the definition of what this is supposed to be in the ordinance, it is supposed to be a place families and individuals can go to have choices of fun, safe things to do,” he said. “The north end [with a movie theater, restaurants and small shops] fits that definition. But, I don’t see how two box stores are family friendly centers of the community.”

When Jandris asked if the developer would consider removing the “big box” component of the plans, Jaworski explained that the box stores are permitted under the zoning ordinance.

Members of the Committee to Stop Mahwah Mall, a citizen group who has been working to stop the development since Ordinance 1684 was , asked the board Monday night to refuse to hear the application, which is currently the subject of .

The board explained at previous meetings that it would hear the application outside of any decisions made in superior or state court. If a court decision affects the hearing, “then we react at that point,” board attorney Peter Scandariato said.

After about three hours of testimony and a half hour of public questioning, the first night of the hearing came to a close. It will pick up again at 7 p.m. February 27.

Hank February 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
They sit on 287 all day looking for criminals. What's the difference if they find a criminal in a car on 287 or a mall right off 287?
Kevin February 20, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Hank there is a big difference. I kind of feel bad for you that you can't see it. I am well aware there can been positives as well as negatives with this mall. If the negatives are not addressed prior to this being built they will have an adverse effect on this township and all that live, work and visit here. The negatives out weight the positives, it is not worth doing. So to minimize the negatives they must be addressed now and have a plan in place to prevent or slow down the frequency of the negatives. Are the police really out there all day Hank. If you really knew that you would be implying you are there all day and we all know your not. I know I want my officers to spend time in my neighborhood watching over my home and family not just out on 287.
Hank February 20, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I am actually in Ramsey/Mahwah taking care of customers7 days a week.There are speed traps on 17 and 287 pretty much all day but not in one spot they move around. Moffat Rd hill is the new hot spot for 17 north. So what is the difference if a speeder gets stopped on 17 or a shoplifter gets put in the back seat of a cop car at the lifestyle center. Why would you need more cops? They are on duty anyway. You said a" big difference" but then you did not back it up. And again my question to you is: if retail was so evil why is the town of Ramsey letting new retail stores open up on 17 you would think the citizens there would have the same fears.
Kevin February 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Wow Hank you really do not listen. If the amount of service calls go up a lot and the officers are in the Mall more, then they spend less time on the streets of the township. How much is the work load going to go up is the question here and if it goes up a lot then you need more officers to respond to service calls of the residents. Really try to follow along here. You would need more cops if officers are in the mall during peak service hours of calls. Which would result in calls being stacked by dispatchers and residents waiting for responses from the police. If the call needs an instant police response officers would have to break from what they are doing if they could or we would need assistance from another agency. This running around by officers can results in lower moral and less production in a police dept. If you would like to get together and discuss it over a cup of coffee I think we can better educate ourselves in the finer points we our both trying to make.
Andy Schmidt February 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Because their won't be a big sucking noise and all the existing perpetrators stop their misdeeds in the rest of town and only congregate in the mall. The crime-fighting in other areas of the town can not let up - but now you have a new huge mass of persons, many from out of town, in an additional area of town, leading to additional acts. To maintain the coverage thoughtout the township that's been successful in keeping Mahwah's per capita crime rates one of the very lowest in the county - you quite obviously will need additonal personnel and resources to cover the additional incidents that some percentage of the additional persons coming to Mahwah will cause. Yes, if you ask the police chief if his department foresees a problem handling the Mall - the answer would be "No" (assuming his budget will be adjusted up accordingly). But I would be interested in hearing his estimate/planning about the change in call volume and the additional annual cost for staff and other resources to police the mall adequately, e.g., by reviewing statistics, personnel needs for the local police department that suddenly had to deal with the Palisades Mall. Whatever the answer is, it would certainly either help assess the value of the Mall more realistically, or address some of the concerns that clearly do exists for many.
Hank February 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM
.Interstate shopping center is 350,000 square feet and has no security. Jewelry store, bank,etc and no security. Are you afraid to go there? Do you see criminals in hand cuffs all hours of the day. Do you see "service calls" when you go there? But somehow the crooks are waiting for the Crossroads to open up to do their evil. And the Mahwah kids are waiting for it to open up to take drugs and become disoriented youth. I think you guys are full of baloney.
Kevin February 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Andy Schmidt don't waist your time speaking to Hank or JP it is a waist of time. They do not want to see this for what it is. We are asking for these issues to be addressed prior to it being built which is not a lot to ask of our elected officials. They are wearing rose colored glasses and think all is great. Shame on them. Just be thankful they are not our elected officials or hold any position were they need to make logical decisions for the rest of us. By the way Mr. Schmidt very well stated and Hank not very well stated "full of baloney" is that your educated and professional conclusion. I would think you would be a little more articulate then that.
Hank February 21, 2012 at 05:22 PM
you have no facts just baloney where is the crime you are so afraid of at Kohls, Interstate,Bottle King etc
Kevin February 21, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I'm done with you Hank save your typing for someone else. You Sir are a lost cause. I invited you to a sit down face to face to talk about this and you and know one else want to sit and discuss this topic. I hope all works out for you sir in your life. I yet to see your facts about the benefits to this mall. You are the only one as you stated it "full of baloney" in other words you speak in circles with no reason to what you want to say. We can sit down and discuss facts if you want but you do not.
Mercedes1 February 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Kevin Let's talk grammar...education, etc. Learn the proper usage of "then" and "than".
Mahwah Resident February 22, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Hank, I suggest you watch the film "Mega Mall" and then get back to us.
Hank February 22, 2012 at 04:31 AM
the planning board is dealing with a 600,000 sq ft mall not some mega mall you made up in your head. If this proposal will be a 2,500,000 sq ft Palisades center give your facts please.The only thing you guys say starts with "wait til you see...." then not a fact to be found
Kevin February 22, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Everyone who is for the mall has yet to present any facts as to the benefits to Mahwah. I am still waiting for those facts. Now you can place a couple of them up here for the rest of us to read and become educated by your wealth of knowledge. One point I heard pro-mall people say is the taxes are going down. Please let me know how that's happening and when was the last time they went down in Mahwah. You want to talk facts lets. Show me now.
Kevin February 22, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Thank you I will look into it and then will work on making the corrections. I am glad such educated people like yourself are here to help people like me. Thank you once again for pointing this out to me.
Hank February 22, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Jobs for HS Jobs for senior citizens Jobs for empty nesters Jobs for tow trucks Jobs for gas stations Jobs for car dealerships Jobs for local restaurants Jobs for snow plowers Jobs for landscapers Jobs for construction Jobs for dump trucks Jobs for window washers did I mention jobs?
Roger Pachiderm February 22, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Jobs for retail managers Jobs for Dad Jobs for Mom Benefits for Mom, Dad, children More property taxes collected Income for businesses that will benefit from lower unemployment Less gas spent driving 15 miles to see a new movie in a modern comfortable theater More amenities to attract new home buyers and start reversing decline in prices (hard to believe for some but in reality numerous food choices and entertainment options are a positive for people looking to buy a home).
Kevin February 23, 2012 at 02:33 PM
"Instead of being a naysayer Mr Kevin you should try to figure out what you can do to cash in on the mall." This is what Hank responded to me about the mall. There you have it its all about cashing in to Hank. Cash in his pocket regardless of what the negative outcome may be. You Sir have shown your true colors. I'm not about cashing in for myself if me cashing results in a negative result to many others. I am not about that. I want to work to a conclusion with this but I will not sell myself out for it so I can become wealthy. How are you cashing in? What is your stake in all this? Jobs is all you came up with. How are you filling your pockets? Wow!
Hank February 23, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I am not filling my pockets. I am a local business owner and I dream like a business owner.
Kevin February 23, 2012 at 05:22 PM
You have already said enough Hank. You dream and do not live in reality its alright. I know what you are now, between your cash in on the mall statement and dream statement. You have blinders on. It is really alright. I hope all works out for you when the mall arrives. May you continue to dream and line your pockets and not see the potential problems if not addressed at this stage of the process in building this project.
Mercedes1 February 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Kevin While you are looking into your grammar, check your spelling. "Waist" is a part of the body. Perhaps you meant waste?
Kevin February 24, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Thank you much.
JP February 26, 2012 at 05:00 AM
There's no need for debate Kevin. I state my view ( the correct one) and you absorb it in as it is. I reject your positions.
JP February 26, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Or... because of the mall, a couple of added police persons are hired, and when they aren't fighting all types of criminals and decrepitness at the mall for 10 minutes (!), maybe they benefit the rest of Mahwah by being available to us in the community as I suspect the real case will be. One more shot at this... the mall will have their own (privately paid) security personnel!!!!! They will handle the incidents and pass off to police if necessary.
JP February 26, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Seems very hypocritical in complaining about a mall in Mahwah being built when all along Rt 17, on both sides, Ramsey and Upper Saddle River are taking advantage of the growing economy and letting just as much new business move in or be newly built (albeit not all in one place). Doesn't traffic have to go through our town southward to get to these spots? Are these sites invisible to criminals? I hear or read absolutely nothing about any complaints on these projects. But... like I have always stated before, this is NOT really about the mall, it's about bigotry towards the people who would want to shop and work there, nothing else. This was indicated many times on this board from various people complaining about the "type" of people that would come into our town. This whole long drawn out scenario about crime at the mall is just code for not wanting "undesirables". Stop hiding the true reason for opposition behind the artarded traffic, police manpower, and flooding issues. It's pure and simple discrimination by people who harbor unrealistic fears. Better get used to having people come into our town mall now. It's going to be build like it or not.
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:04 AM
There's only one benefit that be of any concern. It fills empty (deteriorating) space! And while it's not the only thing that can fill that empty space, it's the thing we have at the moment wanting to fill that empty space. Other suggestions were low cost housing, a casino, office space, a hospital, even a prison. None of those are lining up for a shot there Kevin.
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:10 AM
BTW, where are YOUR facts? Where is the stop mall's studies on traffic, flooding, crime increase, tax burdens, police inadequacies, or anything else? All I see from you complainers is morbid assumptions, fears, and bully tactics against our town council and planning board. Put up or shut up.
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:12 AM
It's not baloney they're full of Hank.
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Discuss your facts right here Kevin so everyone can see them. There's no need at all to meet in private. Show us the numbers. Show us projections. Give us some red meat will you instead of just assumptions based on conjecture. Oh wait... you don't have any facts to back up why this mall will be so ominous, do you? Nevermind.
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Oh please... get real on this for once will you resident?!?
JP February 26, 2012 at 06:25 AM
What in the world makes you feel that any potential problems are NOT going to be addressed Kevin?

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