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Plan Recommends ‘Downtown’ Feel To Franklin Turnpike, Other Changes

New Master Plan, which officials say will lead to revised township laws on land use, will begin public hearings next month

On September 10, the Mahwah Planning Board will begin public hearings on a document that has been in the works since 2005. The over 130-page Master Plan is the updated version of a planning document that officials say is the first .

“If you care what Mahwah is going to be like in 20 years, you should care about the Master Plan,” Township Zoning Official Gary Montroy said. “It basically looks at what we like, and what we don’t like about Mahwah, and recommends ways we should adjust in the future to change what we don’t like.”

Some of the suggestions in a draft version of the new Master Plan for changes to Mahwah include:

  • Creating a more pedestrian-friendly, “downtown” atmosphere on Franklin Turnpike, especially south of the Shopping Complex and at its intersection with Miller Road. The plan recommends changes be made to make the area more open to restaurant and retail development that invites foot traffic, and more conveniently incorporates as a township center.
  • Fixing the “haphazard appearance” of buildings and commercial developments along Route 17. The plan suggests buildings along the highway “[lack] cohesiveness and/or a unified design theme,” and suggests ways to .
  • Implementing “green building” initiatives in residential and commercial developments. The plan looks at ways to in the township.
  • Creating new opportunities for public transit usage, , and other reexaminations of the “circulation element” in Mahwah. The document looks to .

According to the draft version of the document, which was prepared by previous township planner Burgis Associates, Mahwah has had a Master Plan since 1975. The last reexamination of the document was in 2007. The new version, first commissioned in 2005, cost the township about $95K, Mahwah Business Administrator Brian Campion said.

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association describes a municipality’s Master Plan as a “blueprint” for its future residential, commercial, industrial, environmental and open space development. It states:

Local development decisions affect your quality of life in many ways, including: a healthy environment, clean and plentiful water, safe roadways, compatible land uses, adequate public facilities, and impacts to property values and taxes. A Master Plan is the blue print for a municipality that depicts current land uses, and guides decisions for both growth and conservation in your community. A Master Plan can provide a cohesive focus by outlining development goals and objectives for a community. It can identify suitable districts for commercial or housing developments; farming, open space, recreational areas, and environmental resources; historic and cultural resources; and transportation corridors and utilities.

According to Montroy, the recommendations set forth in the Master Plan are evaluated and turned into new township ordinances. “It’s a three-step process,” he said. “First, is the Master Plan, then zoning ordinances, then a zoning map. This is an extremely important first step because it sets the tone for what developments will and won’t be allowed in town.”

The new Master Plan will also lead to the creation of a "much more accurate and up-to-date" version of a township zoning map, Montroy said. This will allow for more accuracy when the township is considering applications for residential and commercial building projects, he said.

When considering land use applications, the township’s Planning Board looks to the Master Plan as a guide, Board Chairman Todd Sherer said. “It provides an overarching plan for our community moving forward, so it is really important for citizens to get involved and tell us what they think Mahwah should be like.”

During the upcoming public hearing, Sherer said the into consideration before the new Master Plan is finalized and adopted. “It really affects the community at large – so input from everyone, residents, business owners, property owners, developers – would all be appropriate.”

Leading up to the public meeting, Patch will take a more in-depth look at some of the proposals in the draft of the Master Plan. The public hearing will take place September 10 in the beginning at 7 p.m.

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S. B. August 20, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I definitely would appreciate the development of a pedestrian friendly downtown for Mahwah. I think it would add to the general appearance and appeal of our town. It makes sense to center it around Veterans' Park and the train station.
JP August 21, 2012 at 06:57 AM
I'd love to see it done and see the town grow up, but here's the problem... people can't even agree on retail going in at a completely open area by the Sheraton effecting no one's property, and now you want them to accept a major redo of about a half mile long section of the busiest part of town. Could luck with that one.
Gottardo DiGiacopo August 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I'd be all for a Downtown feel and i'd bet most people who oppose the mall would also be for a more Village like Fr. TPK. Mahwah could use a Main St. location where local businesses can thrive and people can gather at what is uniquely ours. what we don't need is 100 acres of the same crap that's at every other mall making wealthy strangers accounts larger in the Cayman Islands.
Hank August 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
You crack me up.You don't want the mall because it may spill out onto local streets. And now you want to clog up the same local streets with a "downtown". I hope you get what you wish for.....a huge successful downtown shopping area. Btw Ramsey has a nice downtown. Just go there. Same difference.
Gottardo DiGiacopo August 22, 2012 at 01:26 AM
when you're not trying to be adorable hank, i have no idea what you're talking about. I don't know where you get clogged up local streets from a 'Downtown' feeling Fr. Tpk.. As for your "huge successful downton shopping area", that's your limited mindset hank; a hugely successful downtown Mahwah is ours... and you can trust that we have very different ideas of what "success" means.
JP August 23, 2012 at 01:45 AM
See now I get the vibe that Gottardo will "make out" with a downtown area, but "lose out" with a mall at the Sheraton. You a small businessman in the Franklin Tpk area with a personal agenda Gottardo? It's not about the traffic is it?
Hank August 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM
No problem Gottardo. "Pedestrian friendly" as in more crosswalks with more people using them slowing down traffic even more.Now you should REALLY be concerned about cars using Devine,202,Meadow and Ramapo to get around that "downtown feel" They should just leave Franklin Turnpike alone in that area.
Ted Slockbower August 26, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I have often though how great it would be to have a "Downtown" in Mahwah, especially since I live a half mile away from the area. Even though I would love to see a "downtown" created, I have to agree with Hank. Have you ever driven down Main St. in Ramsey at any time of the day? It is a mess. The same thing will happen on Franklin turnpike which gets even more traffic. At rush hour, it gets backed up from the border with Suffern all the way south to Airmount Rd. The other problem is where are we going to get public parking for a "downtown"? The residents on Winter Pl. already had permit signs put up by the town because of overflow parking from Roxanne's. You can bet all the other residence's in the immediate area are going to request the same thing. Putting in a downtown on Franklin Ave really needs some long term planning and analysis if it is going to be successful.

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