Business owners in Leonia say town rule keeping nonresidents off local streets is hurting their bottom lines

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LEONIA, NJ — Frustrated business owners in Leonia say a new rule governing road access for “out of towners" is hurting their bottom lines.

Most nonresidents face a $200 fine if they drive through Leonia during rush hour. It was a bid by Mayor Judah Zeigler to stop people from cutting through the town as a shortcut tot he George Washington Bridge.

Business owners organized a protest march Thursday. They say the rules designed to kill unwanted George Washington Bridge related traffic on small side streets is also killing their profits.

"He's thinking about residents only. He's not thinking about business owners," store owner Harold Kim said.

About 80 percent of Kim's business comes from people who do not live in Leonia.

Mayor Zeigler tried to get ahead of the issue with a mass distributed email announcing the rule has been changed, and a proposed, “less menacing” signs, to promote that “Leonia is for business."

The Mayor now says, “…anyone who lives, works in, shops or does business in Leonia is free to use any of our streets at any time, without having to fear that they’ll be in violation of any of the new ordinances.”

Business owner Luis Morales doesn't feel it will help. He says says Leonia officials have already successfully scared away out of town customers from the business district.

"When they know the restrictions and they have that in mind already, it's hard to change that mentality of the customers," Morales said. "They don't want to come to the town because they're not risking the $200 ticket or their license.

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