A municipality in Union County has attracted some controversy on social media for a proposed ordinance prohibiting abortion clinics, tattoo shops, massage parlors and animal hospitals, among other businesses.
However, the proposed ordinance is legal and not uncommon, said Marc Pfeiffer, a senior fellow at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University.
Although obtaining an abortion is legally protected in New Jersey, municipalities don’t have to permit abortion clinics to open.
“That’s the whole point of zoning,” he said. “You get to control what you want.”
However, any zoning regulations are still subject to constitutional issues, he said.
Other municipalities in the state likely already have similar ordinances in place, he said.
Businesses that are included in the prohibited use but already exist in the township are called pre-existing or non-conforming use and wouldn’t be shut down, said Pfeiffer.
“There may be limitations on their ability to grow, so they may not be able to grow or expand, depending on their building footprint and what the rules are,” he said. “They don’t get thrown out.”
However, new businesses included in the prohibited use won’t be able to open, he said.