Blue Laws Suspended This Weekend In Mahwah, Mayor Says
Township is reaching out to Governor's office to express disappointment with O&R's response to storm
Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said he is suspending Blue Laws in the township this Sunday so stores like Home Depot can stay open.
Residents looking for Hurricane Sandy recovery items this weekend should be able to buy them in the township, Laforet said, and Blue Laws are not in the best interest of residents who are still without power.
“I will not enforce Blue Laws in Mahwah this Sunday, no matter the consequence,” he said. “We are in crisis mode.”
Home Depot employees confirmed Saturday that the store will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
According to an NJ.com report, other communities in Bergen county like Hackensack and Lyndhurst, have also suspended Blue Laws.
The county is considering suspending Blue Laws throughout the county this Sunday, Jeanne Baratta, Chief of Staff for the County Executive, said Saturday afternoon.
The move to keep Mahwah businesses open is part of the township’s reaction to what Laforet called an “unacceptable” recovery period in Mahwah. He said he is disappointed with the drawn-out response and lack of communication from Orange & Rockland Utilities, and is calling on the Governor to intervene.
“I am grateful for the power restorations we’ve had, and our community is fortunate in so many ways, but I want the Governor to come here to see how many people are still without power, to see the gas lines on 17, to see that families can’t get into restaurants and stores are running out of inventory so people can’t get food,” he said. “I want him to see all of that, and join me in pressuring O&R.”
Laforet said he has been on the phone with the Governor’s office, state board of public utilities and other county and statewide agencies to express the community’s concerns. He said he is also drafting a formal letter to send to them.
Though he acknowledged repairs that O&R has made in the township, Laforet said he is most disappointed with the utility’s lack of communication with residents, and inability to communicate when specific areas will receive power back.
“People need to know, they need real windows of time so they can make plans, and I’m disappointed that O&R is not doing that. Mahwah is it’s biggest customer,” he said.
O&R representatives have consistently said they are concurrently assessing damage and repairing it, so providing restoration timelines has not been possible. On its website, it has listed 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 as the expected restoration time for nearly all of its outages.
Still, the utility has made progress in Mahwah. After the storm, over 9,000 of its township customers were without power. Saturday morning, the utility was reporting less than 5,000 without power.
But, Laforet said he is dissatisfied. “I need to leverage all the relationships I have with the Governor’s Office and all other agencies on behalf of Mahwah. I have been in touch with other local mayors who have expressed similar concerns. I invite any of them to join me in this if they want to. But, I’m not going to wait for a contingency of mayors to let everyone know what Mahwah needs.”
Though Laforet is up for reelection Tuesday, running against Mahwah’s Department of Public Works Supervisor Ed Sinclair for a four-year term, he said that has not impacted his response to Hurricane Sandy and her after effects.
“The election is in the rear view mirror for me right now,” he said. “I’m not sending mailers or emails. There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our community.”