In the letter by Readington Township, N.J. Committee candidates Liz Duffy and Ben Smith, Readington has options following Solberg ruling, which I discussed in my last post, Duffy and Smith wrote:
One thing to keep in mind is that In addition to the decision on the eminent domain suit, the township is now also faced with defending against the lawsuit filed by the Solbergs to have the entire 700-plus acres zoned for airport use. That suit had been stayed pending the outcome of the eminent domain action, and will now be re-activated if no appeal is filed.
In my last post, I argued against Duffy and Smith’s collectivist claim that they “are in the best position to represent the interests of the entire Township.” Zoning powers are an outgrowth of collectivist thinking. As such, zoning is integral to the matter of Readington’s attempted eminent domain seizure of Solberg land. The township forbids Solberg from expanding or developing by zoning those uses into illegality. The eminent domain action grew from Solberg’s lawsuit challenging the zoning ordinance blocking the Solberg’s plans.
So zoning is at the root of the eminent domain controversy. But zoning powers themselves are illegitimate because they are contrary to the proper purpose of government, which is to protect individual rights, including property rights. Zoning violates rights, so the state has no legitimate authority to dictate private property use, so long as the use of one’s property doesn’t violate the rights of others.
But since we have zoning, any landowner has a right to seek zoning changes in pursuit of the peaceable use of his own land. There’s nothing sacred about zoning powers or zoning maps. The Solbergs have the same rights as anyone else, and deserve not to be threatened with eminent domain—which is nothing more that legalized Mafia-like aggression—for seeking zoning changes needed to use their land as they judge best. Property rights should be the standard for decision making.
Property rights—the right to use one’s property as one pleases—doesn’t mean a landowner can do whatever he wants regardless of the effect on others. If resident “A” believes his rights—his use and enjoyment of his property, or his physical safety and security—will be infringed by resident “B’s” use of his property, then “A” can fight to stop “B’s” use. But the burden of proof is on “A”. If the municipal officials really had the interests of township residents at heart—rather than some undefinable “interests of the entire Township”—, they would seriously consider the rezoning, based on respect for the property rights of the Solbergs, and the valid concerns of residents as these concerns relate to their property rights, which means being safe and secure in the use of their property. If surrounding residents can demonstrate, in an objective forum, that airport expansion would violate their rights—i.e., initiate physical force against them—they would have a valid argument for stopping airport expansion.
The Solberg’s lawsuit to overturn their township’s zoning of their property is no justification for eminent domain aggression, because there is no justification for eminent domain.
Eminent Domain- Always an Abuse
How Property Rights Solve Problems—David R. Henderson for the Library of Economics and Liberty