In either case, to protect the town the Township Committee must stand strong in defense of the township, continuing appeals if necessary, but working hard to reach a negotiated settlement with the Solbergs.
Airport supporters claim the cost of preserving the airport, which has averaged about $100 per year per household, is too high and say that Readington should drop all legal actions. Other residents feel that this small investment is necessary to protect our home values and quality of life. Dropping the legal action would be tantamount to giving the Solbergs a green light for expansion.
History Explains Why Readington Cannot Give up Now
Readington Township has successfully fought the expansion of Solberg Airport since the 1960s. Through the appeals process, the township could finally achieve a permanent resolution to this threat.
To learn more about the history of this conflict, click here>>
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Readington Township’s plan to acquire 625 acres of surrounding land and the development rights on the 101 acre Solberg Airport for $21.7 million was approved via voter referendum in 2006. The Township pursued this acquisition and the matter was challenged in court by Solberg Aviation. The case finally went to trial in 2014. Testimony ended in January 2015, and the Post Trial Briefs summarizing each side’s position have now been filed.
In their Post Trial Briefdated Feb 23 2015, attorneys for Solberg Aviation have put to rest any idea that the Solbergs wish to maintain the airport at its current size or that there is any barrier to expansion other than Readington’s long term efforts to protect the town from jet traffic.
The Solberg attorneys argue that expansion of the airport to accommodate corporate jets is ‘in the public interest’ (that there is demand for a jetport here), that the NJDOT would support expansion if the Solbergs were allowed to pursue it, and that the Solbergs’ long-term desire to expand has been successfully blocked for decades by Readington Township. Click here for Solberg Post Trial Brief.
In their Post Trial Brief, attorneys for Readington Township state that Readington Township’s plan to acquire 625 acres of surrounding land and the development rights on the 101 acre Solberg Airport is necessary because expansion of Solberg Airport would cause "numerous detrimental effects on the water resources of the area” and irreversibly harm the rural character and quality of life in Readington. The Brief goes on to describe how Readington’s actions are supported by legal precedent in other parts of New Jersey. Click here for Readington Post Trial Brief.
Judge Armstrong’s ruling is expected sometime next month.
What Happens Next?
No matter what Judge Armstrong rules, both sides have the right to appeal. There are two scenarios:
March 13, 2015