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 The council repealed the ordinances allowing for the development and posted the question on the November ballot with a decision .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.