BYOB ban will not make the November election

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    Byram-Byram residents will not have the opportunity to vote in the upcoming November election on whether to keep or lift the current ban on BYOB. For over 20 years, Byram has prohibited residents from bringing their own alcoholic beverages into restaurants that do not have a liquor license. Bringing Your Own Bottle (BYOB) of alcohol into restaurants has been a hot topic for local residents at a number of township council meetings over the past year. Late last year, a proposed ordinance to repeal the BYOB ban brought an unusually large attendance to several council meetings. At the meetings, many residents publicly criticized the current Byram law. However, just as many residents expressed their support for keeping the ban alive. Like the community, the council was split when the ordinance came to a vote in early 2004. In turn, the ban stayed alive. However, last April, Byram resident Roy McDonald attempted to get enough signatures on a petition to have the BYOB issue placed in the upcoming November ballot. "Let's vote for this once and for all in November," said McDonald in an open letter to the community sent to The Township Journal. "The choice is yours." However, his efforts to make the November ballot were unsuccessful. According to township officials, McDonald failed to file his petition by the Sept. 3 deadline. McDonald had collected over 600 signatures of registered Byram voters who opposed the BYOB ban. However, officials contend, the signatures were not collected as required by law and therefore could not be used. In a phone interview on Tuesday, McDonald accepted the officials' determination and blamed it on his "work schedule." However, McDonald assured that there is enough support for lifting the ban among Byram residents, that he could collect enough signatures for the matter to be placed in a special election sometime next year. The council also had the power to have the BYOB question put in the hands of local residents. However, it missed an Aug. 20 deadline. At various points over the past year, every council member publicly said that they would like to see BYOB placed on the November ballot. "I think at this point in time, we've had a lot on our table," said Mayor Eskil Danielson who opposes the BYOB ban. "It (BYOB) just hasn't been a priority." McDonald feels that the fact that he was able to collect over 600 signatures should have been a clear sign to local legislators that the issue needs to be readdressed. "Why should I as a regular registered voter have to go any more out of my way to prove that people don't want this," said McDonald. "Let's let the people decide." Councilman James Oscovitch, who abstained from voting on the proposed BYOB amendment earlier this year, agreed that the matter would be best decided by the voters. Officials know this is not the last time they will have deal with the issue. "The council does not have to wait for a time to put it on the ballot," said Danielson. "We can change the ordinance at any time." McDonald agreed, and said that the BYOB issue will no doubt "linger on."