10/13/16 Solberg Airport


Let’s hope this closes the book on the battle between New Jersey’s Readington Township and the Solberg family.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Since 1939, three-generations of Solbergs have operated their family-owned, public-use airport in New Jersey.

For years, Readington Township officials attempted to turn the privately-owned airport into a municipally-owned airport.

In 2006 officials filed a condemnation lawsuit [Township of Readington v. Solberg Aviation Co., Docket No. HNT-L-468-06, filed in 2006] to force the Solbergs to sell their property. That failed.

Three years ago the Township Council attempted to seize the airport using eminent domain. [Township of Readington v. Solberg Aviation Co., Docket No. HNT-L-468-06, filed in 2006]

Not one person at the heavily attended council meeting spoke in favor of the seizure.

[Moreover, the eminent domain seizure efforts by the Readington Township Council didn’t satisfy the state’s Constitutional requirements.  The New Jersey Constitution and Supreme Court — in the case Gallenthin Realty Development, Inc. v. Borough of Paulsboro (A-51-2006) — limit eminent domain seizures for redevelopment to only cases of blighted areas. Which the airport is not. ]

[It’s possible officials may have been hoping to bankrupt Thor Solberg and his children as the family had spent about $2 million defending their property.]

A judge ruled against the township calling its actions “a manifest abuse of the power of eminent domain.”

But there was still a lingering court challenge. In 2007, town officials rezoned portions of the property effectively ending airport operations.

The Solbergs fought back. Days ago, another judge ruled the rezoning constituted an illegal action.

After a decade of fighting city hall, the Solbergs may have finally won.

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