PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Paramus is getting tough on businesses for leaving their sign lights on overnight.

Paramus has a quality of life ordinance that fines businesses $200 or more, plus $33 in court costs, if their signs don’t go dark after 11 p.m.

Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said many residents live adjacent to the stores and the lights disturb them.

“All the stores are permitted to have on lights indoors and in their parking lot for security purposes and the only thing that we’re asking is that they turn off their illuminated signs,” LaBarbiera told 1010 WINS. “This is something that has been in place for several decades to ensure the integrity of our residential neighborhoods.”

So far this year, the town has issued 42 summonses. LaBarbiera said 25 percent of the tickets were issued to repeat offenders, which shows they are not learning their lesson.

“I know that there were several larger retailers that just simply saw this as a nuisance factor and kept the lights on and simply paid the money. So as a way to ensure that they took this ordinance serious, a court appearance was mandatory,” LaBarbiera told WCBS 880.

“I’m really at a loss as to what the issue is,” the mayor said. “We have over 1,000 business here in the community, over 10 million square feet of retail, and on average we probably have somewhere between three to four businesses a week that are in non-compliance. So obviously the large majority of these businesses are in compliance.”

Business owner D.J. Billard said he had no idea his sign was on until after he got fined. He believes merchants should be allowed to pay the fine online or by mail instead of having to spend hours waiting in court.

“If a business could come in and justify the benefit of having their sign on between the hours of 11 [p.m.] and 7:00 in the morning, I really want to examine their business plan because I cannot imagine the benefit and why that would actually deter business. But contrary, one of the things that we pride ourselves on is being business-friendly,” LaBarbiera told WCBS 880.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)


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