Save Solberg Airport

Fight Eminent Domain Abuse in New Jersey

In 1941, aviation pioneer Thor Solberg was given permission by the Readington Township Committee to open and operate a commercial airport on his land. Since that day in 1941 Solberg Airport has functioned as a general aviation airport and the Solberg family has continued to own and operate it.

Upgrades and improvements to its products and services are necessary for any business to survive, even more so for airports due to safety concerns. An airport designed in the 1940’s cannot continue to handle 21st Century traffic. In the 1990’s the Solberg family – with an eye to the future - began to design a Master Plan to modernize and improve the airport. This Master Plan included lengthening a runway, a necessity for today’s light aircraft.

The Master Plan received conditional approval from the NJ DOT and the FAA, but the Readington Township Committee, incorrectly fearing the arrival of commercial jet traffic, began taking steps to thwart any safety improvements to the airport.

Solberg family 1948 pictured at Solberg Airport

Most of the land in this picture is under threat, including where the picture is taken from as well as where the airships are moored

The area taken by the government for

Recognizing that the Solberg family would never voluntarily sell their treasured legacy, the Township Committee passed an ordinance to take the property from the family through Eminent Domain. Faced with the harsh reality of not only losing their land, but their business as well, the Solberg family began negotiating to sell the airport to the state of New Jersey. This sale would keep the land as an airport and give the family the opportunity to run it as they have for nearly 70 years.

Unfortunately, 2 ½ years of negotiations proved fruitless and the sale to the state of New Jersey was never completed. The Township Committee seized upon this opportunity to pass a bond ordinance to finance the forced taking of the airport. The bond amount was the same as deemed unacceptable to the Solberg family when dealing with the state and done prior to an appraisal. The Township Committee paid for an appraisal only after the ordinance passed and it came in suspiciously close to the exact bonded amount.

The town government spent enormous amounts of taxpayer money in 2005 through 2006 on a fear campaign designed to frighten its own residents into supporting their agenda. Finally, as they had been planning all along, in September 2006 the Readington Township Committee filed an Eminent Domain lawsuit to take the airport property and evict the family from their land.

The Solberg family cherishes their land and the heritage left to them by their patriarch. The children and grandchildren of Thor Solberg Sr. work the Airport to this day, and it remains the family’s fervent desire that future generations will continue this tradition. The land was not for sale, and it is not the Solberg family’s intention to sell it. It is nearly 800 acres of pristine open-space where one can view a sunset over the hills to the west or watch hundreds of balloons ascend on a warm summer’s evening. It is a priceless jewel that the family truly loves to share with the community.

Signs like this were posted around Readington to unnessarily frighten residents

Taxpayers have been warned of the potential cost of such an acquistion

The Solberg family has made numerous overtures to the Readington Township Committee to avoid having their land taken from them. The family has agreed to deed restrict the uses of their land to allay any unfounded fears of large jet traffic or commercial development. Unfortunately, these overtures were met with the September 2006 eminent domain lawsuit taking 625 of the 725 acres that make up the airport. The remaining 100 acres, which constitute only the existing airport runways, taxiways and structures, will be severely deed restricted through the condemnation of development rights. The taking of the land in combination with the deed restriction, will most likely prove fatal for the Airport.

The area shown in red is the 625 acres being taken by the government.  The blue area is what will be left over...within the blue area, the government has also condemned the development rights so that only exactly what they want to exist will ever exist.

Under the pretext of preserving already open-space, the Township Committee is attempting to take land from private tax-paying citizens. This over-reach of government is nothing more than the state telling its subjects exactly how to run their own private business. This is a proposition that should scare us all. If this is allowed to stand, what rights do we have? Whose land will be next?

Thor Solberg explains in this video that the airport is not for sale