Westwood Resident Seeks to Repeal Bergen Blue Laws
Rosemary Shashoua has started the group "Modernize Bergen County" to allow stores to open on Sundays.
One Westwood resident is fed up with Bergen County's "blue laws" and is working to have the "old fashioned" rules appealed.
"All I want is more revenue for the state and more jobs," Rosemary Shashoua said.
Shashoua has found some like-minded county residents and started a new group called "Modernize Bergen County" with the goal of repealing the blue laws, the rules which prohibit the sale of items like clothing, furniture and appliances on Sundays.
Shashoua said she was inspired to start the group after Hurricane Sandy, when Gov. Chris Christie temporarily suspended county blue laws to aid recovery from the storm.
"Nobody had any clothing and nobody had anything to fix up their houses," Shashoua said, referring to residents displaced by the storm. "They weren't there to open up the jewelry store."
Repealing the laws could also have benefits beyond times immediately after storms, Shashoua said. Having stores open an extra day could create additonal jobs and bring in more money from shoppers.
Not everyone agrees. When the governor temporarily suspended the laws after the storm, Paramus officials objected to the change, taking the decision to court.
"The Blue Laws are absolutely essential to keeping Paramus livable and I will never stop fighting to make sure they are always here to protect our quality of life," Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said after a judge upheld the suspension.
Still, Shashoua is confident others will side with her. She and Modernize Bergen County plan to obtain 10,000 signatures for a petition to get a referendum on the ballot either this year or next year, and have already been in contact with some county malls, officials and chambers of commerce about the plan.
Bergen County has a long tradition with blue laws. The current law originated in the 1950s after the Garden State Plaza was built and became a popular destination for shoppers. The blue laws have been challenged twice: once in 1980 and again in 1993. The plans to repeal the laws were defeated 192,394 to 157,648 in 1980 and 185,821 to 105,040 in 1993.