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Blue Laws Ballot Question Faces Doubts

Clerk says anti-Blue Laws effort is short by thousands of needed signatures

Rosemary Shashoua collected signatures in Teaneck. / File photo
Rosemary Shashoua collected signatures in Teaneck. / File photo

The Bergen County Clerk’s Office says a group that announced last month it collected enough signatures to get a referendum to overturn the Blue Laws is actually thousands of signatures away from the amount required for a ballot question.

Modernize Bergen County, which opposes the county’s Sunday shopping restrictions, said it had met the 2,500 required signatures for the November ballot. Clerk John Hogan, however, told northjersey.com Thursday that the group in fact needed 55,000 signatures.

Conflicting reports have emerged over how many signatures are needed, with differing numbers reportedly coming from officials, statutes and the group’s attorney.

"We think we're on firm legal grounds,” Hogan said in the report. “If anyone challenges that, of course, the judge will have the final say.”

Rosemary Shashoua, of Westwood, and fellow Modernize Bergen County members have been holding signature drives around the area with the belief they needed a minimum of 2,500 names for a ballot question.

Previous referendums to repeal the laws were defeated 192,394 to 157,648 in 1980 and 185,821 to 105,040 in 1993.

es September 12, 2013 at 11:57 AM
What some people don't realize about Teaneck is that the orthodox Sabbath observing population has increased, while the generally less observant populations have decreased, thus the issue becomes acute. Still, the economy has much more to do with Teaneck's particluar plight than Sunday laws. Why do you suppose Ridgewood restaurants aren't jam-packed for three seatings every Saturday night? Are you better off today than you were in 2006? This petition could be brought to the town, rather than to the county.
Tom Abbott September 12, 2013 at 03:05 PM
State law does not allow the petition to be brought to the town. State law only allows for a referendum on the county level to remove the blue laws.
es September 12, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Section: 40A:64-4: Municipality may prohibit Sunday sales by referendum 17. In a county that has approved Sunday sales by referendum, any municipality in that county which voted to prohibit Sunday sales at that referendum may by municipal referendum and pursuant to R.S.40:45-3 submit to the voters of the municipality for their approval the question of whether Sunday sales shall be permitted in that municipality.
es September 12, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I assume that section allows for individual towns to opt-out and is not a one-time use it or lose it event.
Phil Brooks September 12, 2013 at 09:51 PM
ES, Not sure what your point is. // A town can opt for its own Blue Law in a county where Sunday shopping is legal. It doesn't work the other way around where the county is "Blue" and a municipality wishes to opt out. // It's a one way street.

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