Shop-Rite accuses Byram of flip-flopping on 206 project

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    BYRAM-Ronetco Supermarkets, the parent company of Shop-Rite, says Byram is now taking a contradictory approach to the Route 206 expansion project. The statement was made in response to the council's recent resolution putting a moratorium on the project until a different approach can be developed with the state Department of Transportaion. The council believes the currant plan is unnecessarily large in scope and wants to tone it down, phasing in different aspects of the expansion to lessen the potential negative impact on the township and its environment. Addressing town leaders at a recent council meeting, David Romano, vice president and controller of Ronetco Supermarkets, expressed his displeasure and concern over the council's move to put things on hold. "As the largest taxpayer in the area, we have been working very closely with the town. We have been involved (in this project) for over 20 years," said Romano. "There was a collaborative effort putting a list of things together with the county and township, working together to bring things up to the DOT. I am quite disappointed to hear this township now taking a contrary approach." Romano, holding a folder several inches thick with letters, articles, memos and notes concerning the Route 206 project, quoted from past council meetings where council members praised the state plan saying that "everything we have asked for has been granted." According to Romano, that statement was made in May of 2003 but now, two years later, the project is on hold and potentially in doubt. And Romano wants the town to take a more conciliatory approach. "We have 1,200 employees, people who live in Sussex and Warren counties, who have to travel back and forth who are effected by this," said Romano. "The bickering they are reading about now, they are writing me letters asking me what is going on." Township officials, however, say their stance on the issue has not changed. Instead, they say it is the times that are different. "We have been working with the DOT to effect changes asked for 15 and 20 years ago," said Mayor Skip Danielson. "Several things have changed since then. Changes in laws and the state's approach, the Highlands Preservation Act and storm water management has been effected. We honestly want to work co-operatively". The county, however, is on a different page. While the town wants to go back to the drawing board, the county is urging the project move full steam ahead as is. In a letter written by Sussex County Administrator John Eskilson and recently sent to DOT commissioner John Lettiere, Eskilson said the time to act is now. "We urge you to make the Route 206 project a reality by expeditiously moving the project to final design and construction," wrote Eskilson. With all the resistance to the Route 206 project from the municipality, Romano says he is worried about the delay in implementation of the project and its effect on the town, his employees and his business. "I am very concerned for the Township of Byram and its future," said Romano. David Romano of Ronetco addresses the Byram council regarding the plans to expand Route 206.