by Jim Leggate
A group of Bergen County residents who want to repeal the county's Blue Laws have secured the 2,500 signatures they need to get a referendum on the ballot in November.
The group, called Modernize Bergen County, began gathering signatures for their petition earlier this year after then-Westwood resident Rosemary Shashoua was inspired by Gov. Chris Christie's order to suspend the laws following Hurricane Sandy.
The group plans to file their petitions in early September and will continue gathering extra signatures until then, according to Shashoua.
Modernize Bergen County netted about 400 signatures at Teaneck’s Memorial Day celebration on Cedar Lane.
"It was fishing in a stocked pond," Shashoua said after the Teaneck event.
The Blue Laws issue has been debated by other county residents who want to keep the laws. Even if the referendum is successful, some stores in retail-heavy Paramus will likely have to remain shut on Sundays because the town has its own additional Blue Laws.
Those who support keeping the laws have said they want to have a peaceful day with less traffic and let retail employees have a day off, while those who want to repeal the laws have argued an extra day of sales each week could help struggling businesses.
Blue Laws supporters have said the mandatory closures give Bergen County residents a break from traffic and crowds.Previous referendums to repeal the laws were defeated 192,394 to 157,648 in 1980 and 185,821 to 105,040 in 1993, but Amy Margolin, a volunteer with Modernize Bergen County, said she believed this time could be different.