Byram receives Highlands grant

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

    BYRAM - The state Highlands Council awarded Byram and 31 other municipalities more than half-a-million dollars in grants to help adjust to the new environmental legislation. Byram will receive $50,000, the largest sum awarded among six Sussex County municipalities, to share its planning recipes in the state-designated preservation region. “We were chosen for the planning work we’ve done in the past - our master plan, our village center,” said Byram planning director Chris Hellwig. “We are sort of a model for other communities to follow.” Hellwig said Byram’s grant is two-fold, with $40,000 to be used toward development of the Route 206 corridor - from the Stanhope border to the Shop-Rite plaza. County officials believe the grant could not have come at a better time. The Department of Transportation plans to widen Route 206 by up to five lanes through the center of the township, but has rejected a request for a moratorium on the planning and design of the $26.5 million project. DOT is expected to break ground late next year. Some Byram council members want local and state officials to have more time to address township planning goals and cost-effective, long-term relief for the congested, 1.2-mile stretch of roadway. Hellwig said the remaining portion of the grant would be used to evaluate the township’s septic management system around Cranberry Lake and Lake Mohawk. Byram requires all residents to have their septic systems pumped every three years and pay a $15 administrative fee. “It’s relatively simple in terms of responsibility,” said Hellwig. “It’s sort of the keep it simple stupid philosophy. It just seems to work.” The grant was part of $572,000 distributed to municipalities in the seven-county Highlands region. Five other municipalities including Hamburg, Hardyston, Hopatcong, Stanhope and Vernon received grants of up to $12,500 to help pay for affordable housing plans. The Highlands Act protects about 800,000 acres of northern New Jersey property to ensure that water supplies are preserved and kept clean for about half the state. The legislation mandates that the council finish its 18-month master plan by June 2006.