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Plan Recommends No 'Big Box' Stores In Mahwah

First public hearing on Mahwah's reworked Master Plan reveals goals for types of commercial development on Route 17, Franklin Turnpike

Mahwah will discourage big box store developments along Route 17 and throughout the township, planner Joe Burgis said during a that should set the tone for development in Mahwah for the next decade or more.

During Burgis’ presentation at a Planning Board public hearing on the document Monday night, he said big box stores do not represent the “character of development [we’d like] along the Route 17.” Discouraging big box stores is a “very explicit goal in this Master Plan,” he said. The planner described “big box” retail as “the Wal Marts, those types of stores.”

The one spot in Mahwah where – at the Crossroads Town Center development planned for the intersection of Routes 17 and 287 – is no exception.

The controversial development, which calls for 600,000 square feet of retail, including the two boxes, is planned for a block of land that, .

Burgis said that recommendation did not change is the new version. “The zoning [currently allowed at the] International Crossroads is office space,” Burgis said. “This Master Plan does not make any recommendations to change that.”

Though it warns against big box developments, the Plan does promote other types of commercial and retail developments in certain areas of the township.

For Route 17, Burgis said the plan recommends improving the landscaping, aesthetics, and signage at future retail developments along the highway. He suggested “enhancing the visual [impact of Route 17] by creating a unified design theme.”

For the 80 acres or so of land on Franklin Turnpike between the New York State border and King Street, the plan recommends a It also points out that two-story mixed-use developments, with retail stores on the first floor and either offices or apartments on the second, are permitted in the area, Burgis said.

The plan also calls for more “linkages” between shopping developments on both Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike, which would allow for residents to park in one area, and safely walk between stores, instead of needing to drive in and out of nearby parking lots.

The plan also calls for increased opportunities for what Burgis called “circulation” throughout the township, via increased , a s, pedestrian and bicycle paths, participation in the , and other methods to connect neighborhoods and public places in Mahwah.

While several residents expressed support of the big box recommendation, Audrey Artusio said she was “uncertain about the redevelopment on Franklin Turnpike. If there is more shopping there, where would you park?” she asked.

Burgis said any development changes would happen over time, and would consider parking and feasibility before approved.

The public hearing on the Master Plan continues October 15 at 7 p.m. at town hall. The entire 150+ page document is posted on the township’s website.

Check Patch all week for a continuing look at some of the suggestions made by the professional planner and by residents at the first public hearing.

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