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What The Crossroads Vote Means For Mahwah

52 percent of voters said they do not want the development

Mahwah voters said that they do not want a shopping center developed at the intersection of Routes 17 and 287, but the vote was very close. Out of 5,678 voters to cast their opinion on nonbinding referendum Tuesday, 2,955 or just about 52 percent said that they did not want the area to be rezoned for a retail use.

Both the Committee to Stop Mahwah Mall, a resident group against the project, and the developer planning to build the site Garden Commercial, are taking these results as a victory.

"We are very happy with what the people have said," Susan Chin, one of the CSMM organizers said Tuesday night. But, she noted that she felt there would have been a higher discrepancy among the votes if not for a "very expensive last minute marketing pitch by the developer."

According to the spokesperson for the developer Ryan Peene, the results will not affect the trajectory of the project. "We are confident that the results show that much of the Mahwah community supports the Crossroads development, and as we are able to educate more people about its benefits, we feel that the support in the community will only grow."

Peene, who pointed out that supporters of the development took the majority of Mahwah's 14 districts in the Tuesday night vote but lost the overall vote counts, said "we look forward to continuing our conversation with Mahwah residents."

The development has been a hotly debated topic in Mahwah since a at which the property was rezoned to allow for retail.

The CSMM then garnered over 2,000 signatures on a petition asking the town council to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot. The council repealed the ordinances allowing for the development and posted the question on the November ballot with a decision . However, the Crossroads Developer for the property one day before the appeal.

The developer filed under a new state “time of decision” law stating that the zoning ordinances in place at the time of site plan submission are the ones the developer is required to adhere to. However, the law has yet to be tested in New Jersey courts.

The site plan application is slated to be reviewed by the Mahwah Planning Board, which recently from a superior court judge regarding the state’s "time of application" law and it's applicability to the Crossroads application.

Though the referendum vote will not likely directly effect the outcome of the project, both sides expressed a desire before the election for the results to come out in their favor.

Mahwah Resident November 11, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Q. Amen. I agree with you 110%. I would have moved to Paramus if I wanted to be near a mall. JP should move to Paramus where there are alot of malls for him to choose from.
Jonathan N. Marcus November 11, 2011 at 04:27 PM
JP: So in other words, it was nothing more than for public relations purposes which is what I suspected. At the end of the day, our past leadership and their schizophrenic actions have taken the development decision out of our own hands and placed it into the hands of the legal system - with we, the taxpayers, paying the cost.
Jonathan N. Marcus November 11, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Q: Since this was a non-binding referendum, it obviously has no legal value. From what you have posted, the referendum was carried out as a means to potentially stop the litigation being brought by the SMM Group. In other words, the SMM Group informally agreed with the town leadership that that they would drop the litigation if the referendum was carried out and the result went against them. Thanks for this information.
Hank November 11, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Can someone explain to me why they think a giant mall will be built here? There is enough space for sure. But there is no demand. And I have yet to hear anyone take on the argument The mall you fearis made up in your head there is no demand for it. Imagine you are an investor and I came to you with Mahwah Mega Mall look at a map connect Riverdale,Paramus,Palisades,Harriman Mahwah is in the center and cut of by malls in all directions approx 15 mile radius 3 BJ's 2 Sears 3 Best buy 5 Home depot 3Lowes 5 Targets 4 Bed and Bath's 3 Walmarts 5 Staples 2 Toys r Us inside the 15 miles circle there is not a large population either at 15 miles and cut off 4 ways it would seem the draw to the mega mall would be 7 1/2 miles. Would you lend the money?
Charlie November 11, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Pete, how do you figure you can't use votes as leveratge, you are right 48% wanted the mall, 52% does not want the mall, that is 4% more Mahwah residents want the mall then don't. The fight for the mall not too be built now is stronger then ever, the vote showed everyone more don't want the mall then do. The mall has to be stopped at all costs, the people that voted for no mall must and will be heard, that was the whole point of putting the mall on the ballet. 48/52 means you can't use votes as leverage they cancel out
Hank November 12, 2011 at 12:34 AM
but charlie after the vote, I still want the mall if "yes" won you would still be against the mall Now if I were a councilman I know for sure that no matter how many antimall people show up and make noise. There are 2,500 people home watching TV who are for the mall.Something I did not know before the referendum. So now me as councilman Pete (sounds good)can make a decision favoring the mall even though I indicated I was against the mall. You say "we will vote you out next election" I think" well I made 2,700 voters mad at me but I also made 2,500 voters happy". So i'll risk it for 200 voters. Thus the cancelling out. You had them by the youknowwhat before the referendum.They had no idea how many people you represented. You guys made it look like the whole town was against the mall.Which was a good strategy. No longer true.
Charlie November 12, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Pete what you say about the 200 votes is true, I understand this. But the town already put the zoning back to where it was before the March 31st. DaPuzzo would have had a much better chance of winning if not for being in the spotlight. Trust me, DaPuzzo did not want the mall to be any part of his campaign for running for mayor. So the new Mayor most likely will not want to be under a microscope as DaPuzzo was. The real issue is going to be how the judge determines the developer rushing in the application. That is going to be a big factor. Once that information is in, the Stop Mahwah Mall Group will be watching the new Mayor very closely to see how he handles the mall issue. Either way it is going to be very interesting to see how everything develops from this point forward.
Hank November 12, 2011 at 04:47 AM
I had to change my name.
Jonathan N. Marcus November 12, 2011 at 05:31 AM
In case anyone is interested, I decided to do a post-election numbers analysis. I posted the results on my Board. With regard to the Crossroads referendum, here is the breakdown: The below analysis is based upon the 2010 Census Data reported by Mahwah Patch on February 3, 2011, and the unofficial 2011 election results reported by Mahwah Patch on November 8, 2011. The unofficial election results did not include absentee ballots. CROSSROADS: A total of 5,678 residents responded to the referendum. This means that 715 residents who came out to vote decided not to answer the referendum question. In other words, 1% of the total residents who came out to vote decided not to answer the referendum question. Only 36.9% of the registered voters in Mahwah responded to the referendum question, which means that only 27% of the residents 18 or older in Mahwah responded to the referendum question. Of the residents who responded to the referendum question, 52% voted against the retail zoning and 48% voted for the retail zoning. This means that in looking at the total number of registered voters in Mahwah, 19.2% voted against the retail zoning and 17.7% voted for it. In looking at the total number of residents 18 or older in Mahwah, 14% voted against the retail zoning and 13% voted for it. Thus, 63.1% of registered voters in Mahwah were not heard from in this referendum. This means that 73% of Mahwah residents 18 or older have not been heard from on the issue.
ButchP November 12, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Jonathan - thanks for the numbers crunch. Very enlightening. Bottom line is that among Mahwah residents eligible to weigh in on this issue, the difference between those in favor and those opposed is minuscule. It's very telling that the largest majority of residents didn't even care enough either way to voice an opinion, i.e., vote. So, people, please stop saying that 52% of Mahwah residents oppose the mall. It's more like 14% -- only 1% more than those who favor it.
Karen November 12, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Its a non-binding referendum that likely means little to nothing but I don't see a 52/48 vote split as a victory for "Stop the Mall" indeed the fact that the voter turnout was low tells me that the majority of voters in Mahwah don't care which I would interpret as more in favor of the development than against.
Charlie November 12, 2011 at 03:45 PM
ButchP, lets put it this way, for anyone who did not vote on the Mayor or the mall, has no right what so ever to voice an opinion on what the Mayor does or what happens with the mall. So for those that voted that is what the vote was about. 48% wants it and 52% does not want it, so 4% more of the town that voted does not want the mall. In sports Butch, if a member of a team does not play and the team wins by 1 point does that count as a win or does the other team say it does not count because one player from the other team was not playing. There I rest my case, “Mahwah does not want a mall. The vote was based on who voted, not on who didn't. Butch I agree, please stop saying Mahwah wants a mall, the vote came back saying more Mahwah voters do not want a mall. Lets put the vote to a rest and concentrate on ensuring this Mall does not get built as more Mahwah residents that voted proved Mahwah does not want a mall.
Charlie November 12, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Karen, the non binding referendum means more then you might think. A judge is looking at weather the developer rushed in the application 24 hours before the council changed the zoning back to where it was before the March 31st meeting. In the event the judge rules that the developer did indeed rush the application to beat the clock then there is a case against the developer. There is no other way to look at it other then a victory for the Stop Mahwah Mall Group, if not for that group no Mahwah resident would have been able to vote on the mall matter at all. DaPuzzo and 4 councilmen had no intention of allowing the Mahwah residents a vote, and you an see where that got DaPuzzo (no mayor and off the planning board) if not for the for the Stop Mahwah Mall Group the zoning would not be changed back to where it was prior to March 31st. Karen as I said to ButchP, anyone who did not vote on the Mayor or the mall, has no right what so ever to voice an opinion on what the Mayor does or what happens with the mall. I would interpret as anyone who did not vote will have to deal with what happens good or bad without saying a word. They had their chance to voice how they feel; they blew it if they did not vote.
Charlie November 12, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Karen a vote is based on how many voted not how many didn’t, weather it is close or not. The only way it can be looked at is the outcome of the vote, why is this so hard for everyone to get. The Mahwah residents that voted stated that they do not want a mall. Weather the difference is 1 vote, 200 votes or 10000 votes, the majority wins the vote. There is not one word mentioned about the Mahwah voters that did not vote on the new Mayor, no one is saying there is a chance he may not be mayor if all the Mahwah voters voted. My point is a vote is a vote, regardless how many voted.
JP November 13, 2011 at 08:38 AM
Charlie, the ONLY loser here will be the town of Mahwah if we don't get the mall, don't get the jobs, don't get the revenue, and our town businesses don't get the benefit of consumer dollars cash flow, but, do get one thing... a huge lawsuit. You are aware that we are still recovering from a national recession don't you? What, about creating jobs and opportunities, do you and the other stop group members not get? What about you and the others - maybe - putting up with a little more traffic in a remote part of town for the sake of the unemployed and their families, do you (all) not get? I really think in these iffy economic times, a little sacrifice in the constant negative attitude by others on these building projects and a lot less whining over imaginary problems is necessary on this one. You don't stop growth in a recession. We don't have the luxury right now of having available job openings around every corner. I can't imagine for one minute how the personal and individual distaste for an unproven and non-based fear for more traffic trumps the creation of hundreds of new jobs. Who (the hell) thinks like that?!? That's nothing but selfishness and a desire for control on the part of each and every stop mall member.
Q November 13, 2011 at 01:26 PM
there are always a few people who are unhappy that a vote didnt go their way. It would be good to accept reality and put efforts into something positive. Maybe run for council, join suppport a charity, or start your own small business enterprise.
Charlie November 13, 2011 at 02:32 PM
JP, if you feel Mahwah will lose out because of not getting a mall, then I guess you have to move to Paramus where they are doing so much better with a few malls in their town. If you feel you want to be in town that is doing better then Mahwah Paramus is your town. As far as a lawsuit goes, you can thank DaPuzzo for that. DaPuzzo had his chance to prove leadership on March 31st, well he blew that one didn’t he. That is why he is not mayor or on the planning board. DaPuzzo after hearing 400 plus residents voicing their concerns on why they didn’t want a mall signed it right away without putting the mall up to a vote by Mahwah residents. Had DaPuzzo put the mall up for a vote a law suit would have been avoided, but DaPuzzo figured nothing will happen, the 400 plus residents are mad now, it will blow right over, well you can see how that decision worked out for DaPuzzo. I am aware we are in a recession JP, if you like approach Upper Saddle River, Saddle River and Franklin Lakes and see if you can convince their mayors to build a mall in those towns, good luck I think you already know the answer to that one.
Charlie November 13, 2011 at 02:34 PM
JP, build on the land what it is zoned for, commercial and hotel, if you are so concerned about creating new jobs. JP, you don’t have to be a genus to see there will be more traffic on rt 17 and all the side roads, how could there not be. I worked in Hackensack for 21 years, I could of very easily moved into Paramus and have been closer to Hackensack, but I for one did not want to live by a mall, that is why I choose Mahwah and as the vote showed a lot of Mahwah residents feel the same way. JP, I can’t understand what everyone is so up in arms about this, the Stop Mahwah Mall Group only wanted to have Mahwah residents vote on weather they want the mall or not. In the event the vote came back in favor of Mahwah residents wanting the mall the Stop Mahwah Mall Group would have dropped everything if the majority of Mahwah residents that voted wanted the mall. Even if by 10 votes. The fact of the matter is more Mahwah residents that pay taxes in Mahwah that voted do not want the mall.
Charlie November 13, 2011 at 02:35 PM
JP, as far as control, DaPuzzo again showed his thirst for control and power, forcing a mall down Mahwah resident throats. The Stop Mahwah Mall Group only informed what DaPuzzo was planning and did not want to allow Mahwah residents a vote on the matter. Who the hell is DaPuzzo for attempting to change the way Mahwah is, the reason why we moved to Mahwah, JP, if you have a bone to pick talk to DaPuzzo, he is your real problem. JP, Mahwah spoke, it is not only the members of the Stop Mahwah Mall Group that does not want the mall, the majority of Mahwah voters that voted do not want the mall as well. Now it is up to the new mayor and council to wait and see how the judge rules on the developer rushing in the application and take it from there. As far as I am concerned the vote came back on how Mahwah feels about having a mall. It is up to the new mayor and council to ensure the mall does not get built no matter how costly the lawsuit is.
Average Joe November 13, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Yeah Charlie who the hell is Dapuzzo trying to bring in tax revenue and more jobs to Mahwah, how dare he try to help our town what was he thinking. He sure was "forcing a mall down Mahwah resident throats" after discussing it for weeks at meetings, listening to pros and cons, and ultimately coming to what he thought was the best decision for the entire town. Charlie you need to take a deep breath and relax a little bit.
Charlie November 13, 2011 at 10:55 PM
JP, were you at the March 31st meeting when 400 plus residents spoke against the mall? If you were then you would understand what started this whole mall issue in the first place. There was not one person that spoke out for the mall on March 31st. JP, you seem to understand DaPuzzo pretty well, you might know why did DaPuzzo keep refusing to put the mall issue up to the town for a vote, it was up to Mahwah residents to get that done, or there would not of been a question to vote on regarding the mall.
Gottardo DiGiacopo November 13, 2011 at 11:55 PM
To mr J Marcus Esquire (after laboring thru 50 redundant e-mails), you seem to keep asking the same question over and over about the value of a "non-binding" referendum. To use your own query: Isn't 'emoting' and 'acting politically' of value?? Also, if anyone suggested to you that the CSMM traded in their lawsuit for a decorative referendum vote, then they told you a preposterous lie... And in case you're wondering if we are all thoroughly stupid, i say to you "we are not", though i could be wrong.
Jonathan N. Marcus November 14, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Gottatdo: Thanks for the response. Having a referendum for political purposes or to address emotions is certainly of value if that was the purpose. I was just trying to find someone associated with the referendum in order to understand if those were indeed the purposes. As you noted, I had asked the question a few times but could not seem to get a response on point. I am not sure why you would think that I believe folks might be stupid. As I have evidenced in other comments to other articles, I detest when fellow residents come on Patch and start belittling their fellow residents.
Gottardo DiGiacopo November 14, 2011 at 01:27 AM
my bad john i rarely return to the Patch anymore as it has only ever been a place where noone budges an inch and so instead there's just just a lot of quipping and bitching. when you ask again and again "why the referendum" (on this testy Patch), even though the answer is obvious (emopolitically later is better than emopolitically never etc etc), then i would still be inclined to ask if maybe you thought we were stupid. it's not a personal thing; it's more about the culture of the forum. G
Jonathan N. Marcus November 14, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Gottardo: No need to apologize. My intial thoughts were that this referendum was for political and emotional issues. However, I had not had the opportunity to speak with anyone directly involved in the push for the referendum so I was curious if there were other motives behind it. As an attorney, I was wondering if anyone thought that the referendum would be of any evidentiary value in the town's defense of the current litigations it is facing. Thus, I was asking the question a few different times in hopes that someone directly involved in the process might be able to offer some "insider perspective" on the issue beyond what was obvious from the outside looking in.
JP November 15, 2011 at 07:43 AM
Question: Who is funding the SMM group's lawsuit?
JP November 15, 2011 at 07:48 AM
Or I should say, who WAS funding their lawsuit, since according to Charlie, when the result came back "no" the lawsuit by SMM was supposed to be dropped. I'm not getting that vibe that it was, was it.
Charlie November 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM
JP, I have not checked through all my comments, but I may of made a mistake, if I did say no "meaning no mall" then it was suppose to be yes "meaning yes to the mall". The lawsuit would of been dropped if the vote came back saying more Mahwah residents that voted wanted the mall.
Gottardo DiGiacopo November 15, 2011 at 10:34 PM
JonMarc For almost a year our short-lived mayor (and some Patch die-hards) was suggesting that "everyone he spoke to wanted a mall and that he'd be amazed if the vote came back NO". he did his best (with help from his stacked council and the land owner) to promote fear among Mahwah residents regarding low-income housing and casino gambling... these false threats were floated until the day of the election. The Non-Binding Referendum was seen early on by The CSMM as a way to legitimize moving forward with our grass-roots efforts (including the lawsuit) to oppose the rezoning of land in our town to suit the particular owner's desires. as far as any evidentiary value goes, it's unimaginable to me what circumstances would even allow our referendum results into court.
Gottardo DiGiacopo November 15, 2011 at 10:37 PM
just like-minded people giving what they got, JP... George Soros hasn't gotten wind of us yet. we still need contributions; if you go to the website you can download a form.

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