September 23, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 5 Mahwah New uses in industrial zones could draw legal challenge by Frank J. McMahon The Mahwah Council has adopted an ordinance that adds “health and wellness centers” and “fitness and health clubs” as permitted uses in the GI-80 general industry and IP-120 industrial park zones. This ordinance may face a legal challenge from TSI Mahwah, LLC, which does business as the New York Sports Club and is located on Leighton Place in the Fardale section of the township. John Lamb, the attorney for the NY Sports Club, which operates as a health and fitness facility, claims there is no difference between a wellness center and a health club, and he maintains that Valley Hospital still wants to get into the health club business. He told the council that, while he has no problem with that, he wants the council to consider certain issues he has raised about the new ordinance. Lamb said the township’s Route 17 corridor study identified only two sites in that area that should allow retail, but he claims this ordinance will lead to a conglomeration of retail shopping centers in the industrial zones because it would make the industrial properties more valuable. He also claimed that Valley would sell memberships in its health and wellness facility, so it would be a retail operation in the industrial zone and not a cardiac rehabilitation center. Lamb also raised the possibility of Valley Hospital applying for tax exempt status if it receives approval to open a wellness center in an industrial zone, an issue he said he raised two years ago but has not been addressed by the planning board or the council. He asserted that his health club is required to have more parking spaces than wellness centers, which he called a “classic example of arbitrariness” and characterized as being unfair. Lamb urged the council to amend the ordinance to require an entity that files an application to locate a wellness center in an industrial zone to be a “for-profit” operation to avoid the tax-exempt issue, and to require the same parking spaces for both wellness centers and health clubs. The council proceeded, however, to approve the ordinance by a five to one vote. Council President John DaPuzzo recused himself from the vote to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest because he has a working relationship with Mahwah Realty Associates which is the NY Sports Club’s landlord. Councilman Samuel Alderisio voted for the adoption of the ordinance, but voiced concern about the tax-exempt issue, and Councilman Robert Hermansen voted against its adoption, explaining that the potential applicant seeking approval for a wellness center has not verified that it will operate as a for-profit facility. “So the reason I voted ‘no’ was to protect the taxpayer,” Hermansen clarified. In May, Superior Court Judge Jonathan N. Harris invalidated a township ordinance that was adopted in September 2007 to allow wellness centers and health clubs in the township’s GI-80 and IP-120 industrial zones. The lawsuit was filed by the NY Sports Club and its landlord. Harris based his ruling on the fact that the previous ordinance unexpectedly added the same uses to the township’s B-40 highway business district zone and Mahwah’s officials did not recognize that the addition of these two uses in the IP-120 industrial zone automatically would cause them to be treated as permitted principal uses in the B40 zone. The township conceded that it (continued on page 8) PLEASE VISIT US AT OUR NEW LOCATION across from the new Stop & Shop Your Neighborhood Shoe Store Is Back! HUGE CLEARANCE SALE Selected Styles Only One Pair For - $15 Two Pair For - $25 on Selected Sizes & Styles 20%-50% Off Other Selected Sizes & Styles Bring in this ad and receive $5 OFF your total purchase of footwear. Offer can not be combined with any other offer. Exp.10-10-09 Specializin Wide Widt g in hs Boulder Run Center • Wyckoff, NJ • 201-891-8580 Family Owned & Operated since 1888 Slobodien Stride Rite