LETTER TO THE EDITOR – READINGTON CANDIDATES – Our Position on Solberg Airport

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We are not in favor of seeing the airport expand in a manner that will adversely impact the community.  We do not support runway expansion.  That being said, we are keenly aware of the fact that the law limits Readington’s ability to control the airport, and in particular prohibits Readington from unilaterally imposing its will on limiting runway length.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest.

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Unfortunately for residents, our municipal leaders and their followers for a decade now have CHOSEN to make runway length the SOLE defining factor in the airport saga, and have CHOSEN to litigate to the death on this one issue.  Now we have lost that battle.  The courts have told us (including the Appellate court) that the state has the overriding right to regulate airports in NJ, and that Readington cannot condemn the land as a backdoor means to do so.  $10M spent and ten years later, Readington’s condemnation attempt was held invalid and illegal, and their down-zoning of the airport held invalid and illegal.

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What’s worse is Readington was caught trying to snooker the court – swearing under oath that the condemnation was for the purpose of preserving open space (arguably legal on its face) and not for the purpose of controlling the airport (clearly illegal).  The evidence of Readington’s true intent to control the airport was overwhelming, leading the court to characterize every township committee member that testified as “not credible.”   So now Readington has lost on legal grounds, and has no credibility in the eyes of the courts

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The “judge is biased” and the “courts are wrong” our municipal officials and their followers say.  Really???  Those self-serving statements will not win an appeal.

We believe there is still a compromise to be had if we are willing to consider the overall “impact to the community” as the primary driving factor as opposed to runway length as the line in the sand.  Imagine if a fleet of helicopters was to be based at Solberg Airport?  That could happen today without any runway expansion, and the solution our municipal leaders have pursued for a decade now would provide absolutely no protection for residents in that scenario.  Limiting hours of operation, types of aircraft, number of flights per day, and flight hours per day are all areas that the Solbergs, back in 2006, offered to negotiate on.  Imagine where we could have been if we had actually considered this approach while we still had some leverage (i.e. before we lost in court)?

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We believe in telling residents the TRUTH, whether or not it is popular.  Our current leaders, our opponents and their followers (CFR) on the other hand, continue to want you to believe that they can force their will on the airport.  Not only have they failed to do so, but they have done just the opposite and opened the door to expansion via their insistence on engaging in, and now LOSING the court battle.

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Can we guarantee that if we negotiate we can accomplish a certain specified result?  No – we cannot since our predecessors’ litigation losses have put the Solbergs in the driver’s seat.  What we can guarantee is we have a far better chance of doing so than our opponents and the old regime who know only two things: litigation and runway length, and who refuse to “negotiate” otherwise.

Britt Simon and Wayne Borella (Candidates for Readington Township Committee)

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