MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A park is Bergen County, New Jersey is banning people from out of state, and the controversial rule is now under investigation.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, some say it’s discrimination.
There are multiple rules posted in Winter’s Park in Mahwah, like no grilling and no dogs allowed. But the new ordinance banning people from out of state has yet to be enforced as the New Jersey attorney general investigates.
“It used to not be like it is now. Now, you have an influx of many different kinds people, which is OK, like I said. But really it should be priority for residents first,” Mahway resident Mary DePalma said.
Residents have complained about overcrowding at parks on weekends, particularly by busloads of Orthodox Jews.
Mahwah officials were advised not to speak on camera, due to the investigation into how the ban was adopted.
But the council president told Baker over the phone the ban is not meant to target any specific group. It’s in response to complaints of people with New York license plates taking over parks. He added that Mahwah taxpayers pay for the park’s upkeep and should get priority use.
Dave Dowling has an out of state license plate but works in town.
“There’s really not much I can say about it. If it’s a town ordinance, I’ll just have to eat my lunch somewhere else,” he said.
Kyle Farrison said he brings his twin girls there often.
“On a weekend, yeah, it definitely gets packed here,” he said.
But he said it’s a public park and should be open to all kids.
Neighboring Saddle River and other towns have similar “for residents only” ordinances. But in regards to Mahwah, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said his office is “interested to know what motivated this measure, and what its ultimate intent is.”
Township officials turned over documents, text messages, emails and social media posts in the investigation.
The Bergen County prosecutor told CBS2 that enforcing the ban could violate the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and other laws that ban discrimination.