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Town May Ban Personal Trainers From Public Parks

Possible law would disallow businesses from operating on public property, but that may affect travel sports leagues

Personal trainers and other small business owners who operate their businesses in Mahwah parks may soon be out of a workspace. The town council discussed last week a new law that would prohibit residents from conducting for-profit businesses on township property.

According to Business Administrator Brian Campion, the township has received several noise complaints from neighbors of and fields about personal trainers conducting classes at the parks and making a lot of noise, often early in the morning. “We have not received many complaints saying that people operating businesses at the parks are prohibiting others’ enjoyment of the parks, so that seems to be a lesser problem,” he said.

Council members questioned whether or not small businesses, like personal trainers, should be allowed to use public property to make money.  Campion said that currently, the township has “no specific ordinance prohibiting it,” so trainers are not violating any laws by operating at the fields.

While many on the council expressed a feeling that this practice should not be allowed, Councilman Harry Williams asked what the ramifications of a law prohibiting for-profit businesses from operating at parks would be to travel and other sports teams that use the facilities regularly.

“Our parks are constantly used by travel sports teams, and those sports organizations make money,” Williams said. “How can we prohibit personal trainers, but not soccer trainers?”

Other council members brought up concerns about liability in the event that a customer of one of the businesses gets hurt during a session at the park. Campion said the town could be sued in that case, however “anyone who gets injured at a public place could file a suit. That’s not unique to this.”

The council rejected the idea of having business owners lease space at public facilities.

The governing body decided Thursday to seek legal counsel for input on what type of law, if any, would be appropriate to address this issue. It also said it would look to related laws in nearby towns before  making a decision at a future meeting.

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Have a question or a news tip? Email the editor Jessica Mazzola at jessica.mazzola@patch.com. Or, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your email inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Shari Levitsky June 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Who is complaining about the noise? I attend one of these classes, and I can tell you with the utmost certainty, that the child care center across the street from the Commodore Perry field, is by far, way more noisy than any of our classes!! Think about it, 30-40 screaming children vs. 4-5 adult women who can barely catch their breath!!! The noise thing isn't working with me.
Jonathan N. Marcus June 15, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Not having been at the Council meeting when this was discussed, it is possible that I missed some of the facts. Jessica's article notes that there were complaints made about noise at the parks. However, what is not stated was whether those complaints were independently confirmed by township officials. Just because someone complains about something, does not mean that what they are complaining about is actually true. If these "complaints" were not independently verified, then I fail to see why this was even brought before the Council. As many have noted above, it is quite possible that the so-called "complaints" are actually from competing physical fitness business owners who might have a vested interest in getting their competition out of the parks. Thus, I would want to know if anyone from the township was able to verify the noise complaints. If not, then I have to question the motives at play here. If anyone was at the Council meeting when this was discussed, I would love to hear whether this verification was ever discussed.
Regenbogen June 15, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I really don't believe a group of people exercising could cause so much noise that a complaint was filed. Was this basic training maneuvers?
Hank June 15, 2012 at 09:46 PM
i understand live ammo was involved
Hank June 15, 2012 at 10:42 PM
All the trainer has to do is charge $125 for a bottle of water and train his/her friends for free at the park

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