Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thor Solberg Jr.

Thor Solberg Jr., aviator and owner (with his family) of Solberg Airport in my hometown of Readington, NJ, died recently. Solberg’s father, Thor Solberg—the founder of Solberg Airport—made the first transAtlantic flight from the United States to Norway, in 1935.

I didn’t know Thor Solberg Jr. personally. But I will always remember him for his fight against the town’s attempts to seize his airport and surrounding property through eminent domain. .

The fight lasted years. It was an attempt by the township, supported by a disturbingly large segment of the residents, to prevent development and/or expansion of the airport.

If ever there were a poster child for eminent domain abuse and, more broadly, the un-American nature of eminent domain itself, this long battle was it. As the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported in December 2017:

Readington Township tried to take through eminent domain the 624 acres at the airport not used for aviation and the development rights for the 102 aviation acres.

In 2015, a Superior Court judge threw out the township's condemnation action, saying it was "a manifest abuse of the power of eminent domain" and ordered the township to pay Solberg Airport's nearly $3 million legal bills.

In in 2016, another judge, threw out the zoning ordinance, and earlier this year, Solberg Airport won another chunk of legal fees in the case - $379,767. [sic]

That a municipal government, a government that is supposed to protect the rights of its citizens, can be used in such abusive fashion is a sad commentary as to the state of and future of freedom in America. And in an overwhelmingly Republican town, as well. (I’m glad I’m no longer a Republican.) Even despite the Solbergs’ victory, the years of wasted time and aggravation dumped on the Solbergs is inexcusable.

I’ll always remember this battle. Thanks to Thor Solberg Jr. and his family for waging this fight and winning (so far. It may not be over, even yet). When you fight for your rights, you fight for the rights of all of us.

Below is a list of posts I’ve done on the Readington fight:

The Eminent Domain Assault by Readington Against Solberg Land is Democracy in Action—and Un-American

Readington's Eminent Domain Assault on Solberg Airport--1

Readington's Eminent Domain Assault on Solberg Airport--2

Readington's Eminent Domain Assault on Solberg Airport--3

Solberg Airport: Who Shapes "Community Character"?

Why Readington’s Eminent Domain Action Against Solberg Land is Un-American

Solberg Airport: Who Shapes "Community Character"?

An Open Letter to Al Villani Concerning Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ

"Is Any Taking Just?": My Election 2014 Letter

Election 2014: Eminent Domain and the "Limits of Rights"

Solberg Eminent Domain Ruling and Collectivism

Solberg Eminent Domain Ruling and Zoning

Development is Not ‘Inverse Condemnation’

My take on Solberg Airport Expansion and Property Values

Related Reading:

Eminent Domain- Always an Abuse


Mike Kevitt said...

Despite the founding documents of a free country, what it took to establish those documents, and the legitimate laws in pursuit of those documents, that country is no better than the people living in it and the ideas in their heads. That's why freedom is on the way out in the U.S., of all places, and so many people like eminent domain. Today, Americans take up no concern for rights and freedom. That's not any part of their values. The big concern and desire they take up is welfare issuing from 'government'. As far as changing peoples' ideas is concerned, we're too many generations behind the curve, there are too many hundreds of millions of them, and far too few hundreds of us.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

That's all the more reason to fight. Maybe we can turn the few hundred into the few thousand. I think it's actually a lot more than a few hundred. But you're right. We're a small minority. But what do we have to lose? And we can have some fun. Ever notice how flipped out statists get when you call them out on moral grounds?

Mike Kevitt said...

We might number a few thousands, maybe 10,000. But we're still a miniscule(sp?), microscopic minority. But it's true we have nothing to lose.