Economic Development Contributions

Economic Development for Byram Township

Both Mayor Danielson and his running-mate Jack Gallagher have strong interests in the sensible economic development of Byram Township. Today, due to the Highlands regulations, such development can only occur in 2% of the township, essentially along Rt. #206.

Even as Byram’s Chief of Police, Mayor Danielson had the economic interest of the township in mind. He asked former Planning Board (PB) Chairman Willard Kimm Sr. to be able to review new subdivisions and any major projects coming before the PB. Among other projects, this resulted in a lot being donated by the developer of Forest West/Forest South for a public safety building. The building on Lee Hill Road was later donated by a developer through the efforts of former Mayor Richard A. Bowe.

In the early 1970’s, Skip invited an uncle who was on the board of directors of a Morris County-based savings and loan to Byram in hopes that the uncle would recommend the building of a branch of the S&L in Byram. The retired Army major enjoyed the tour of Byram in a marked police car.

Skip’s uncle was very impressed with an empty lot at the corner of Route #206 and Waterloo Road and took the idea back to his board. Soon, a branch of Charter Savings and Loan Association was built and opened at the site. Sovereign Bank is now there.

Soon thereafter, Skip contacted an old friend in Denville who was chair of the People’s National Bank of Denville. That friend was also invited to take a ride in a police car and observe the possibilities of opening a branch of the bank in Byram. The friend looked closely at the then vacant Phillips 66 gas station at the corner of Rt. #206 and Lackawanna Drive and took the idea back to his board. Before too long, much of the old gas station was modified to become the Byram Branch of the People’s National Bank of Denville. The Lakeland Bank now conducts business at the former gas station.

Soon after taking office in 2002, Mayor Danielson took the Class 1 seat on the PB. He then became aware of the possibility of some commercial development on the site of the former Byram Motel and Red Wing Tavern on Route #206 south of Waterloo Road. The development hinged on the swap of a lot line permitting the movement of the Weichert parcel south to the southern-most line of the Bilinkas property.  Again, Skip knew both property owners, Bill Bilinkas (Skip had worked with his mother at CCM before coming to Byram) and Jim Weichert (an acquaintance from Skip’s Chatham PD days).

The plans were submitted to the PB and eventually some 45,000 square feet of commercial space was approved. The current economy has delayed both the lot-line swap and the construction. An additional 15,000 square feet for a CVS adjacent to the Bilinkas/Weichert site has also been approved but that appears to be off the table at this time.

Economic development and planning go together. Mayor Danielson fully supported the hiring of a certified planner in place of a PB secretary for Byram several years ago. Our planning and development director not only manages the intake of planning and zoning applications that have to go before the PB, he also supervises several zoning and construction officials and serves as secretary to the PB. He is involved in networking with his colleagues throughout the state and is always paying attention to the possibilities of economic growth for Byram.

Jack Gallagher’s background in the building supply industry and his knowledge and experience in “green” construction will be invaluable to Byram’s future, sensible growth. He, too, networks within the construction field with people looking to locate or re-locate their commercial enterprises.

Beside the dedicated, multi-use Village Center which remains a viable possibility for Byram to meet the COAH numbers, the ‘lower quarry’ behind Shop Rite has tremendous potential for clean commercial development. There have been some recent inquiries with regard to possible uses on that site.

Mayor Danielson has been very active in Byram’s economic development and Jack Gallagher’s professional experience will be invaluable to the efforts of our planning and development director and the PB.

photo by Joyce Bambach

photo by Joyce Bambach