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Paramus Mayor Upset About Decision To Suspend Blue Laws

Some Residents Say The Laws Are Needed On Sundays For 'A Day Of Relief'
Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera Speaks With CBS 2's Derricke Dennis (credit: CBS 2)

Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera Speaks With CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis (credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The mayor of a northern New Jersey town says he strongly disagrees with a court ruling about lifting its shopping ban this Sunday, but said he will have no choice but to abide by it.

Paramus will be open for business this Sunday. The city’s blue laws, in effect for 60 years, banning consumer sales at stores, malls and liquor stores was suspended after Mayor Rich LaBarbiera and Bergen County executive Kathleen Donovan took opposite positions and landed in court.

Governor Chris Christie temporarily suspended Bergen County’s so-called blue laws after County Executive Kathleen Donovan made the request during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports


“During this time of recovery and rebuilding, our citizens must have adequate access to the supplies they need to help return their lives to normal – particularly those residents who are still without power,” Christie had said in a news release.

“Like odd-even gasoline rationing, suspension of the blue laws was dictated by needs caused by the storm,” Donovan told CBS 2 in a statement.

The objective was to allow residents to buy post-storm supplies, but the governor said all stores could open no matter what they sell.

Mayor LaBarbiera, who said many in his town rely on the laws for a day of rest from oppressive traffic and noise, pointed the finger at the county executive for the court decision.

“I think the issue lies right now with the county executive and that is who the governor has deferred to when it comes to the suspension of the blue laws and I’m now going to focus on ensuring that the county executive makes the request as early as this coming Monday,” LaBarbiera told 1010 WINS.

LaBarbiera said he believes Donovan should be worrying about the bigger picture instead of spending taxpayers’ dollars by dragging the town — which has 10 million square feet of retail space — to court.

“There’s a public outcry and it’s unfortunate because Paramus just got hit with a Hurricane Sandy no more than two weeks ago, and now we anticipate a Hurricane Kathleen hitting us this Sunday,” LaBarbiera said referring to Donovan.

Residents who spoke with CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis on Friday had differing opinions.

“I feel they have to do whatever it takes to help people with the storm. I think it has to be done,” said Natalia Semyk.

“I think the blue laws are very important for Bergen County. Anybody in the area who tries to drive on Route 17 on Sunday, it’s a day of relief,” responded Jeff Wolfer.

LaBarbiera levied even more criticism on the county executive.

“Instead of worrying about whether or not jewelry can be sold in Paramus she should worry about providing power back to the many residents who are sitting home in the cold and dark,” LaBarbiera said.

The mayor and residents find the laws sacred.

“Honestly, if they open on Sunday I want to move,” resident Joan Landsberg said.

“I don’t like it at all. It’s the only day in Paramus you can drive with no traffic,” one man said.

Paramus’ mayor said he will work to ensure this Sunday was the last without the blue laws.

“Although the residents of Paramus and I strongly disagree with this ruling, we will abide by it. The county executive says that this will be the last Sunday without the blue laws and I intend to hold her to that,” LaBarbiera said.