Bergen Blue Laws Battle Headed to Court

Paramus seeks to enforce Blue Laws after Christie ordered them suspended.

It's been a week since Gov. Chris Christie issued the order to suspend Bergen County's Blue Laws so that residents most impacted by Hurricane Sandy could purchase necessary repair items. And while Paramus has the strictest Blue Laws on the books, County Executive Kathleen Donovan may take the borough to court this week to keep local officials from limiting what stores can be open.

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan had asked the state last Saturday to suspend the county’s Blue Laws as the County struggled with numerous power outages. Christie gave the order on Sunday, Nov. 4 to allow for retail stores to open.

The Executive Order is meant to allow the sale of clothing and wearing apparel, building and lumber supply materials, furniture, home or business or office furnishings, household, business or office appliances.

But Paramus posted on its borough website that the remainder of the towns Blue Laws remain in effect. A letter was also issued to the Paramus Chamber of Commerce outlining what could and could not be sold on Sunday. Officials have stated they will enforce the laws and if need by fine any retail stores that attempt to sell books, jewelry, recreational and athletic equipment, or automobiles.

“You mean to tell me that Neiman Marcus and an $800 pair of Christian Louboutins are a necessity at this point? Come on,” Mayor Richard LaBarbiera told northjersey.com. “Or that the 100,000 square feet of jewelry stores need to be open in Paramus? It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And I find it disingenuous that they think that this is necessary to address the needs of those people impacted by the storm.”

County officials stated they intend to head to court on Thursday seeking a ruling to prevent Paramus and any other towns from enforcing the Blue Laws.

Westfield Garden State Plaza posted on its Facebook page that it will be open on Sunday, 11am to 6pm. The  Bergen Town Center Paramus Park and Shops at Riverside will also be open on Sunday as well.

Josh Hosseinof November 08, 2012 at 06:34 PM
NYC has no State or City sales tax on Clothing and Shoes under $110. So that's not a reason for anyone from NYC to come to NJ on Saturday or Sunday. "unnecessary damage to roads" ? Aren't roads meant to be driven on?
Deleted because of harassment November 08, 2012 at 06:36 PM
If you want to do if for the economy, allow only those stores and businesses that have their corporate HQ in Bergen to open. That way, the money stays in Bergen. The retail jobs are at the bottom end of the economy, and they do very little to help it when the profits all go elsewhere. How about stores like Glen Rock Hardware, instead of Home Depot and Lowe's? Or eating at Fisher's Cafe instead of McDonald's? I doubt the traffic and congestion would be an issue if that were the case.
zizi November 08, 2012 at 07:00 PM
@rozette: Welcome to Bergen county.... the home of ice-agers...... I never understand the logic of blue laws..... if you don't like to buy than stay home or do whatever you want... but please don't stop others to live their lives......
zizi November 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I think individual towns should vote on this..... it should not be a county wide issue......
zizi November 08, 2012 at 07:07 PM
@Josh Hosseinof:.... the people who like blue laws also think this world is only 5000 years old..... and everything revolves around our earth...... the list goes on..... logic has little value to them.... Please don't tell them about the football games on Sunday..... once they will find out about football games on Sunday.. they might......
zizi November 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Keith: Teaneck will probably vote to close stores on Saturday...... go drive down cedar lane on Saturday....... I think... the real solution is to let everyone decide for them self - without any law dictating a day of no business.....
BellairBerdan November 08, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Josh, how exactly does that revenue benefit the town? In fact it would probably cost the town in extra services. Those stores on Rt 20 opened because of the Blue Laws just across the river and because they were given an urban enterprise zone sales tax ( which Christie wants to do away with that too). Those stores never would have been there if not for those things. But if I can figure out how I can do without something between the hours of 10PM -10AM because the stores are closed, I can figure out how do without it, or drive even closer to the stores on rt 20 on Sunday. Put it to a vote again. If Christie can refuse to sign a marriage equality bill passed by the legislature because he wants it to go to a vote, why not honor the People's vote on this?
FairLawn soccer mom November 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM
BA do you understand how economics works or just complain all the time? Commercial properties are valued by how much income they make. More income, more taxes paid. How will it cost the town in extra services? Aren't the police already working? Are you seriously comparing a local blue law vote with a statewide issue on something as inconsequential as gay marriage? Did you hear the one about blacks don't support gay marriage...heck they don't support straight marriage - Chris Rock.
BellairBerdan November 08, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Wow, you're pretty messed up, aren't you?
FairLawn soccer mom November 08, 2012 at 09:24 PM
What services will it cost the town BAB complainer? Enjoy BAB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDxOSjgl5Z4
BellairBerdan November 08, 2012 at 09:33 PM
You're a sad sad person.
FairLawn soccer mom November 08, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Nah!! Life is AWESOME! what services will it cost the town? I like going to Lowes on Sundays when I am not working
Leslie Wilson November 08, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Blue Laws serve numerous purposes. I don't think the responders are acknowledging all of the reasons. I think convenience is the major issue to abolish them. Consumers in Bergen want to shop like shoppers in the the rest of the state. However, here are several points on why they probably should not be abolished. Bergen Co. decided to keep its laws to maintain a certain degree of prestige. There is more than one law. Hackensack, Teaneck and Paramus for example have modified Blue Laws. If shoppers stay within NJ to shop on Sunday, the taxable revenue stays within the state. The issue is not taxes. Most of the goods sold in Paramus' major malls don't produce taxes. There are no taxes on clothes in NJ. So the taxable income is coming from other goods, mostly items not sold at the Paramus malls. Yet, Bergen Co. was one of the first in NJ to launch an offensive against the big ticket stores like Home Depot forcing them to close by 10pm when they used to be open to midnight and denying Best Buy's late night sales. Is there massive outcry to get that reversed? Abolishing the laws is not going to create enough high paying retail jobs to make a difference. The retail industry is suffering and there are cutbacks in the workforce. The cost of traffic, like police and pollution, not just traffic, might be a factor. After a game or on Saturday nite you would see the massive traffic jams that last for miles & hours on 17, 4, 80 and NJT. Let's get all of the facts & then decide!
BellairBerdan November 08, 2012 at 10:38 PM
So "washed ashore", did your name get banned for hate speech or did you make up this new one just for me?
Joe Godin November 09, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I live in Teaneck and would like to shop on Sunday. We have now legalized marijuana in some sates and gay marriage in others. And I can't shop on Sunday precisely because....WHY? I regularly drive Monday-Friday along the 4 and 17 corridors and NEVER encounter any traffic except at rush hour when you would expect it. I also travel the back roads along 4 and 17 and also find traffic there to be manageable. It is hard to imagine that spreading the shopping week out over an additional day would increase traffic. Seems to me it would help achieve a more even distribution of traffic and LESSEN TRAFFIC. The most hectic traffic seems to come when schools let out and you are traveling behind a bus. Based on Paramus logic, should we then ban schools or school buses?
BelareBurden November 09, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I didnt see any hate speech except from you! How are the failed policies of democrats doing today? Solve any problems or are there still poor and unemployed people out there? Woohoo Obama he's your man if he can't do it nobody can! Don't look now we just borrowed more money from china and still no one is better off.
Josh S November 09, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Gov Cristie does not have the authority to be a dictator even if Ms Donovan samples her kid's pot.
Concerned November 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Such a major debate but the answer is here over and over... Let this go town by town. If a town encounters additional traffic or anything else unwanted they will enable the blue laws. I would vote, campaign, and donate to any cause in Wyckoff that works towards removing these unjust laws. The premise is based on religious beliefs and I resent it, although I understand the more practical reasons (by town).
EJ November 09, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I agree - I grew up here in the area (30+ years) and enjoy the respite that the Blue Laws gives us. It provides a unique benefit living in the NYC Metro area providing for an additional good quality of life (even if it's just for half of the weekend). I don't believe people losing 1-day of shopping out of 7 under normal circumstances is life / death. For emergency situations like Sandy - sure keep stores open for critical supplies but once "normalcy" returns so does the law. "Stay home on Sunday...", tell you what buddy - that doesn't contribute to quality of life. Being able to enjoy our towns without the usual traffic and on-rush of shoppers for just one-day a week day is worth fighting to keep. You can drive out to whatever it is you need if you need to shop that badly (really?). People who have lived here for any significant period of time appreciate the additional quality of life while living within a stone's throw from New York City. Those who are new to the area really begin to appreciate it once they've been around long enough to experience it.
Ricky November 09, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Blue laws, schmooo laws, it makes hardly a difference. There's a Lowes just off Rt. 80, a Home Depot both easily reachable by Bergen residents along the other side of the Passaic River. There's a Home Depot in Secaucus easily reachable by those in the southern part of Bergen, same story along Rt. 59 in Rockland for those in northern part of Bergen.
Macy November 09, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Does anyone remeber when you couldnt even go to a supermarket on Sunday??? I know I am dating myself but there was no internet, cable (Just plain old TV) cell phones and guess what families did family things like spend time together and visiting friends and family. Everyone managed, Sunday shopping has just become a way to get out of the house nothing more! Sure during an emergency stores like home depot, hardware stores and such should be open extra but do we really need a hugh mall open? REALLY?
L W November 09, 2012 at 02:37 PM
yes. we do. Sunday is my only day off from work, so where do I shop? In New York State. Too bad NJ is missing out on my money. Blue laws are ridiculous. I do however think that towns (not the county) should have to right to choose whether they want them or not. I live in Ramsey where there is a lot of retail business. It would be nice to patronize those stores if they were open on Sunday...
james November 09, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Perhaps the merchants can give the Paramus sports teams a percentage of the revenue so we aren't accosted every Sat for donations. Guess the out of town traffic is very welcomed on those days.
Tee Smyth November 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I live in Teaneck, and agree with keeping the law as is. Good luck, Paramus. Keep up the good fight!
Phil Jonas November 09, 2012 at 05:17 PM
BellairBerdan You are full of Poppycock!
BellairBerdan November 09, 2012 at 07:04 PM
LW what makes you think you will have Sundays off for long if we continue to let big business chip away at what the People have voted?
Ricky November 10, 2012 at 07:16 AM
Unless you rely solely on public transportation, these blue laws aren't a big hassle. Supermarkets are open and they carry batteries and many other items that can still be purchased. But again, there's a Lowes, Home Depot within a 15 minute drive of most of the county anyway. If you live in Elmwood Park or Fair Lawn, it's more like 5 minutes or less.
JP November 15, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Even better... let it go business by business. Want to stay open, do so, don't, then don't. I didn't see a meltdown in Paramus last weekend because stores were open, did anyone?
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