News

Judge Tosses Challenge To Temporary Blue Law Suspension; Sunday Shopping Again Allowed In Bergen County

Shopping Mall (file / credit: clipart.com)

Shopping Mall (file / credit: clipart.com)

Superstorm Sandy

PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A state judge has rejected a northern New Jersey town’s opposition to an executive order temporarily lifting the so-called blue laws, which ban retail shopping on Sundays in Bergen County.

Gov. Chris Christie temporarily suspended the blue laws after County Executive Kathleen Donovan made the request.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports from Paramus

But officials in Paramus, where the laws are stricter than the county rules, challenged the directive. They fear that some may use the storm as an excuse to weaken the blue laws, which were enacted 60 years ago.

“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,” Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera said on Saturday.

“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 on Saturday, referring to Donovan.

Bergen County residents took advantage of the temporary blue laws suspension, with the Home Depot on Route 17 a popular destination for those still cleaning up from Sandy.

“I’m getting a gas stabilizer and a couple of items that I need for the house, some wood that had some damage,” one Bergen resident told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “If you need stuff, important to fix your house, yes, I think it’s a good idea for a little while. Other than that, it’s a lot of traffic and we need a day’s rest.”

Another shopper at Home Depot said he is thankful the blue laws were lifted again this week.

“This is something that I really needed and I can’t really wait for tomorrow,” he said.

Most residents applauded the temporary suspension of the laws to allow shopping on Sunday.

“It’s a great thing. Christie’s done the right thing and they should stay open all the way to the end of the year,” another man said.

The Bergen resident said for now, the temporary suspension is a hidden secret that he hopes does not go public.

“If New York City finds out we’re open, yes. But other than that, there’s no traffic now,” he told Smith.

“It’s convenient right now with the storm and everything and getting things done. But living in Bergen County all my life, I kind of like not having the stores open Sunday because of the traffic,” another resident told Smith.

Some said this temporary suspension should become permanent to help the county’s economy.

“They should be open every Sunday all year round. I think the blue laws in Bergen County should be abolished,” a Bergen resident told Smith.

The state judge denied the challenge from Paramus officials, citing “unprecedented damage” caused by superstorm Sandy.

“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.

Many Bergen residents say the blue laws offer one day per week of driving without traffic on main thoroughfares like Route 17 and Route 4.

Bergen County’s blue laws were also lifted last Sunday. The county administrator told the Bergen Record that he expects the suspension of the law to end after this weekend.

He also said the county will ask Gov. Christie early next week to lift the order suspending the blue laws.

Do you support the blue laws or do you think they should be repealed? Sound off in the comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)