If Readington Township does not file an appeal, the trial court’s opinion issued in May 2015 will enable Solberg Airport to expand in size and capacity. This is an outcome which is clearly on Solberg’s agenda. An Airport Layout Plan, prepared by Solberg Aviation and given conditional approval by the FAA over a decade ago, provides for re-constructing and enlarging the main runway to 5,000 feet. At this size Solberg achieves the State’s published objective with a path to handling “…the largest and most demanding corporate jet aircraft*”. Also, without an appeal Readington Township will be required to pay Solberg Aviation’s legal bills for the years 2001 through 2015, and by the trial judge’s opinion the entire 726 acre property will be available for airport development despite Readington’s existing, less permissive zoning.
If the Township does file an appeal, Readington’s taxpayers may not have to pay Solberg legal fees, the Township will be in a better position to argue an appeal from the Solberg’s to pay their delinquent taxes on the airport facility property, and the undeveloped Solberg properties could be reverted back to Agricultural Residential zoning.
Most importantly, the cost of filing an appeal is small because the proceeding is based on the record already established at trial. If successful, an appeal would give the Township the opportunity to reduce overall costs and protect the community from an unwanted airport expansion.
*See pages 5 and 10 of the State’s Aviation System Plan
A court case between Readington Twp. and Solberg Aviation was decided in May 2015 in favor of Solberg. The Township may appeal this ruling, but not until a number of legal and property tax issues are resolved. It is estimated that the deadline for filing an appeal will be late November.
August 31, 2015