A revised plan for the proposed traffic improvements around the Crossroads Town Center shopping complex brought up concerns about existing bus and truck traffic interfering with new shopping center traffic at a continued public hearing on the development plan Monday night.
Members of the Planning Board and the public questioned whether or not buses from the bus terminal located inside the International Crossroads property and trucks from a truck stop located at the entrance to the proposed development would interfere too much with newly generated “mall traffic.”
A revised traffic plan calls for two entrances to the shopping center, one at Leisure Lane that allows shoppers to pull straight into the complex, passing through the middle of the bus depot, and one on Cross Road that would enter into a new shopping center driveway.
Residents and board members questioned the developer’s traffic expert Daniel Disario as to the feasibility of shopping center traffic maneuvering around buses and bus depot employees crossing back and forth across Leisure Lane, one of the proposed access points to the development.
According to Disario, the bus depot traffic would be minimal. Based on observations made at the site last week, he said about eight to 12 pedestrians and two to three buses cross the road per hour. “I would think a bus would yield to any oncoming traffic, since they are coming from driveways, which are minor approaches [to the main road]…Legally, the [buses] would have to stop,” for mall traffic, he said.
He also said a cross walk across Leisure Lane from the north side of the bus depot to the south side would likely be added.
The board also brought up concerns about a truck stop on Route 17 near the proposed entrance to the shopping center, and whether or not tractor trailers would be able to pull in and out of the site onto Route 17 with the increased shopping center traffic. Trucks might not be able to pull out of the stop, or would back up traffic onto Route 17 when they do, board members said.
“You’re basically cutting off [the truck stop’s] business, right?” Board member Jerry Crean asked.
Disario said he would bring up the truck stop concerns to the state Department of Transportation, which has final approval over the traffic plan. “Access to both truck stops [on the North and South sides of Route 17 near the proposed entrances to and exits from the development] will be part of the DOT review,” he said.
One change that will not be worked into the plan, Crossroads attorney Jim Jaworski said, would be the acquisition and incorporation of additional properties. Purchasing and adding adjacent Route 17 properties, like that of Suburban Propane and the truck stop in question, to the site would be a “fatal mistake,” because of the state’s Time of Submission law, Jaworski said.
The law states that the zoning laws and ordinances in place at the time a developer files a site application are the ones to which he or she should be held during the development process. The CTC developer one day before Mahwah’s town council allowing for the development to be built.
Any significant changes to the site plan, like adding properties to it, would open up the site’s application to rejection, based on the law, Jaworski said.
But, Disario said the traffic plan is a “process” that “evolves” throughout the application process in response to board member, resident and township professional concerns. Though the developer has met once with the DOT, the plan is still in the relatively early stages of DOT review, experts said.