'Modernize Bergen County' Has A Week To Collect Some 53,000 Signatures

PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Blue Laws in Bergen County have prevented shoppers from getting to most stores on Sundays for decades.

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Now, a group is trying to get a question on the November ballot that could change that.

On Friday, the group handed in a petition with thousands of signatures but it might not be enough, CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported.

The four major shopping malls in Paramus bring in serious retail revenue, except on Sunday when they are closed.

“Paramus is also the largest generator of sales tax not just in New Jersey but also the country,” Mayor Rich LaBarbiera said.

A grassroots group known as “Modernize Bergen County” has spent nearly a year trying to get a referendum on the November ballot to repeal Blue Laws.

“Modern life just doesn’t allow people to get their errands done in six days,” a group spokesman explained.

Modernize Bergen County members delivered thousands of signatures to the County Clerk’s Office but they will need many, many more.

“We just went over to the County Clerk’s Office here in Bergen County and delivered 2,648 signed petitions,” Mitchell T. Horn said.

The Clerk’s Office said they need some 55,000 signatures or 10 percent of the registered voters to sign and with more than 900,000 residents in Bergen County the mayor has balked at the group’s efforts.

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“They’ve collected 2,500 signatures, which is less than three signatures a day for nine months and represents less than a quarter of the overall population. That’s far from a mandate,” LaBarbiera said.

The group, however, remains undeterred.

“We’re gonna go out and get 55,000 signatures. This would result in thousands of new jobs for the residents of Bergen County and would help the local downtowns here in this area,” a group spokesperson said.

Some people agreed.

“It’s archaic. It’s better for business,” one man said.

Still others said that the Blue Laws are in place for a reason and that Sundays shouldn’t change.

“Otherwise there’s a lot of traffic here. People use this road to turn around. It’s very difficult and it’s nice to be able to drive without a problem,” one Bergen County resident said.

The Clerk’s Office told CBS 2 that the group has a week to get the necessary signatures. Blue Laws were temporarily suspended after Hurricane Sandy.

The last two times the issue was voted on in Bergen County voters rejected the move.

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