READINGTON TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE

                       READINGTON TOWNSHIP, HUNTERDON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

 

                                      HOLLAND BROOK SCHOOL

                                READINGTON TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY

 

                                       FEBRUARY 21, 2006

                                           6:30 P.M.

 

 

                     IN THE MATTER OF

                                     

                     READINGTON TOWNSHIP             PUBLIC HEARING

                     COMMITTEE MEETING

                                               

                     ......................

 

 

                     B E F O R E:

 

 

                             THE READINGTON TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE

                             _________________________________

 

 

                             MAYOR GERARD SHAMEY

                            

                             JULIA ALLEN

                            

                             THOMAS AURIEMMA

 

                             FRANK GATTI

 

                             BEATRICE MUIR

 

                             VITA MEKOVETZ, Township Clerk

                            

 

                     A P P E A R A N C E S:

 

 

                            CONNELL FOLEY, LLP   

                                 85 Livingston Avenue

                                 Roseland, New Jersey 07068

                             Attorneys for the Township Committee

                             BY:  JAMES RHATICAN, ESQ.

                            

                             SHARON DRAGAN, ESQ.

                             Attorney for the Township Committee

 

 

                              JACQUELINE KLAPP REPORTING SERVICES

                                 Certified Shorthand Reporters

                                       59 Old Croton Road

                                  Flemington, New Jersey 08822

                                         (908) 782-0874

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           2

 

              1                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Good evening, ladies

 

              2               and gentlemen, I'm sorry for the delay.  I

 

              3               would like to welcome all of you to the

 

 

              4               February 21, 2006, meeting of the Readington

 

              5               Township Committee. I would like to begin by

 

              6               announcing all laws governing the Open Public

 

              7               Meetings Act have been met, and this meeting

 

 

              8               has been duly advertised.

 

              9                       Let's salute the flag.

 

             10                       (Whereupon, Mayor Shamey led those

 

             11               present in the salute to the flag.

 

 

             12                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  This is a meeting of

 

             13               the Readington Township Committee, we have

 

             14               some things to take care of before we get to

 

             15               the public hearings.  We have just come out of

 

 

             16               executive session, and we have a couple of

 

             17               bits of business to take care of.  The first

 

             18               item on the executive agenda today was

 

             19               personnel, we have a letter from our

 

 

             20               Recreation Director requesting that the

 

             21               Committee hire Lisa Hellings as the yoga

 

             22               instructor at $30 an hour.

 

             23                       MS. ALLEN:  I will make that motion.

 

 

             24                       MS. MUIR:  I will second that.

 

             25                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           3

 

              1               the affirmative.)

 

              2                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  The contract

 

              3               negotiations for the three professional

 

 

              4               services contracts that come under contract

 

              5               negotiations.  Is there a motion to approve

 

              6               the professional services contract of our bond

 

              7               counsel, McManimon & Scotland, LLC?

 

 

              8                       MS. MUIR:  So moved.

 

              9                       MR. GATTI:  Second.

 

             10                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

             11               the affirmative.)

 

 

             12                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Next, the professional

 

             13               services contract for Martin Allen, Esq. as

 

             14               our tax attorney.  Is there a motion to

 

             15               approve Mr. Allen's professional services

 

 

             16               contract?

 

             17                       MS. ALLEN:  So moved.

 

             18                       MR. GATTI:  Second.

 

             19                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

 

             20               the affirmative.)

 

             21                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  And lastly, is the

 

             22               professional services contract for our public

 

             23               defender, Patrick Clare, Esq.  Is there a

 

 

             24               motion to approve Mr. Clare's professional

 

             25               services contract?

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           4

 

              1                       MS. ALLEN:  So moved.

 

              2                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Second.

 

              3                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

 

              4               the affirmative.)

 

              5                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Okay.  Let me back up a

 

              6               step.  We have the consent agenda, all items

 

              7               listed with an asterisk are considered to be

 

 

              8               routine by the Township Committee and will be

 

              9               covered by one motion.  If there is anything

 

             10               that a member or anyone else wishes to bring

 

             11               to our attention, in that case, it will be

 

 

             12               removed from the general order of business and

 

             13               from its regular sequence on the agenda.

 

             14               These are marked with an asterisk.  Any

 

             15               comments or statements from the Committee on

 

 

             16               the consent agenda?  This also, by the way, is

 

             17               for approval of the minutes of January 17,

 

             18               2006, and January 20, 2006.

 

             19                       Is there a motion on the consent

 

 

             20               agenda and approval of minutes for those

 

             21               meetings?

 

             22                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Motion to approve the

 

             23               consent agenda.

 

 

             24                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Is there a second?

 

             25                       MR. GATTI:  Second.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           5

 

              1                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

              2               the affirmative.)

 

              3                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Now, we will go quickly

 

 

              4               before we get to the public hearing that we

 

              5               are going to skip over correspondence, there

 

              6               are three items of correspondence which are on

 

              7               your agenda, copies of them are up front.

 

 

              8                       Does any member of the Committee have

 

              9               any comment or question with regard to any of

 

             10               the three items under consideration?  Okay.

 

             11                       Moving on to old business, there is

 

 

             12               none.

 

             13                       Do we want to take care of this piece

 

             14               of new business or take care of it at the end

 

             15               when we have the three public hearings?

 

 

             16                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Let's do it at the end.

 

             17                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  The right side says now

 

             18               and the left side says later.  I will break

 

             19               the tie and suggest that we dispose of this

 

 

             20               item now, because it is related to the Triple

 

             21               D, which was covered in executive.

 

             22                       Do you want to speak to this, Julia?

 

             23                       MS. ALLEN:  The first item of new

 

 

             24               business is an ordinance authorizing the

 

             25               conveyance of the farmland preservation or

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           6

 

              1               agricultural development rights, easement to

 

              2               the Hunterdon County Farmland Preservation

 

              3               Program.  Triple D, LLC, is the 38-acre farm

 

 

              4               that we just spoke about, and I would make a

 

              5               motion to pass the ordinance authorizing the

 

              6               conveyance of the development rights to

 

              7               Hunterdon County.

 

 

              8                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Is there a second?

 

              9                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Second.

 

             10                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Roll call.

 

             11                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

 

             12               the affirmative.)

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  The second meeting in

 

             14               March, is that okay?

 

             15                       MS. ALLEN:  Yes.

 

 

             16                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Public hearing on that

 

             17               will be March 20th.  Okay.

 

             18                       We have four public hearings, and we

 

             19               will get to the one that most, I assume, most

 

 

             20               everybody is here for.  This is the public

 

             21               hearing on Ordinance No. 04-2006.  Is there a

 

             22               motion to close the regular meeting and open

 

             23               the public hearing on this ordinance?

 

 

             24                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Moved.

 

             25                       MR. GATTI:  Second.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           7

 

              1                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  All in favor, say aye.

 

              2                       (On roll call, all members voted in

 

              3               the affirmative.)

 

 

              4                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  By way of introduction,

 

              5               ladies and gentlemen, this is the public

 

              6               hearing on Ordinance No. 04-2006, which is an

 

              7               ordinance that is entitled "Bond Ordinance

 

 

              8               Providing for Acquisition of Airport and Land

 

              9               or Interest in Land for Preservation, Block

 

             10               48, Lot 23; Block 55, Lot 33; Block 56, Lots

 

             11               1, 3, 6 and 8; Block 39, Lot 24; and Block 67,

 

 

             12               Lot 2, owner:  Solberg Aviation/Hromoho), in

 

             13               and by the Township of Readington, in the

 

             14               County of Hunterdon, New Jersey, Appropriating

 

             15               $22 Million therefor, and Authorizing the

 

 

             16               Issuance of $21,700,000 Bonds or Notes of the

 

             17               Township to Finance Part of the Cost Thereof."

 

             18                       This ordinance was introduced at this

 

             19               Committee's meeting of February 6, 2006, at

 

 

             20               which time the Township Committee also adopted

 

             21               a resolution which authorized the law firm of

 

             22               Connell, Foley, LLC, to undertake certain

 

             23               investigations of the subject property, that

 

 

             24               is the property that has just been enumerated,

 

             25               Solberg Airport and Hromoho Properties.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           8

 

              1                       The purpose of the investigation is to

 

              2               conduct preliminary assessments including

 

              3               investigations and surveys and, more

 

 

              4               importantly, to obtain appraisals.

 

              5                       Both the bond ordiannce, as well as

 

              6               the resolution I just referred to, are

 

              7               necessary if we are to continue to have

 

 

              8               negotiations with Solberg Aviation about the

 

              9               future of the airport and about the open space

 

             10               surrounding it, which are to be meaningful.

 

             11               The appraisals are, of course, necessary to be

 

 

             12               sure the Township has current and accurate

 

             13               information with which to offer a fair amount

 

             14               of compensation in our discussions with the

 

             15               Solbergs and the bond ordinance places the

 

 

             16               Committee in a position to make a contingency

 

             17               pre-cash offer to Solberg Aviation for the

 

             18               open space that the Township is interested in

 

             19               preserving and for certain development

 

 

             20               restrictions on the airport property.

 

             21                       It should be noted clearly that

 

             22               municipal acquisition of the airport is not

 

             23               contemplated at this time.  This is not an

 

 

             24               eminent domain ordinance.  This is a bond

 

             25               ordinance.  It is the preference of this

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                           9

 

              1               Committee that ownership of the airport remain

 

              2               in the owners, that is Solberg Aviation.  So I

 

              3               cannot stress enough to you the fact that this

 

 

              4               a public hearing on a bond ordinance.  Just

 

              5               give me one moment.

 

              6                       The bond ordinance can be analogized

 

              7               to taking out a home equity line of credit on

 

 

              8               your house.  What it does is it puts the

 

              9               Township in a position to draw down on that

 

             10               allotment of money.  If the Committee is to

 

             11               adopt this ordinance and pass this ordinance

 

 

             12               this evening, we will not have spent a dime of

 

             13               that $22 million, it is a bond ordinance only.

 

             14               Again, it puts us in a position to have money

 

             15               on the table to show the Solbergs and Solberg

 

 

             16               Aviation that we are serious in our effort to

 

             17               negotiate a resolution to our issues.

 

             18                       So what we are going to do this

 

             19               evening is as follows:  I am going to present

 

 

             20               some background information to the audience,

 

             21               just to get people caught up to date.  For

 

             22               those of you who were not present at the

 

             23               January 17th informational meeting, it will

 

 

             24               help bring you up to date as to recent events.

 

             25                       Mrs. Allen will present certain

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          10

 

              1               information relevant to the various funding

 

              2               opportunities that are available to the

 

              3               Township, and funding sources.  We will then

 

 

              4               have Mr. Gatti, who is our finance liaison,

 

              5               speak to anticipated tax impact, keeping in

 

              6               mind that these are hypothetical scenarios

 

              7               that we will be working with.  They are not

 

 

              8               numbers to which we can or wish to be bound.

 

              9               They are examples based upon the hypothetical

 

             10               home assessed at $400,000, and they are also

 

             11               numbers that have been arrived at just by

 

 

             12               virtue of our experience and our Farmland and

 

             13               Open Space Act programs.  So again, there are

 

             14               numbers that we can work with, and they are

 

             15               good examples to use.  Again, perhaps not

 

 

             16               exact.

 

             17                       Following Mr. Gatti's presentation on

 

             18               tax impact, and he will also speak to the

 

             19               municipal debt, and all this will move along

 

 

             20               as quickly as possible, because we have been

 

             21               through much of this before.

 

             22                       There have been numerous questions

 

             23               raised, both by residents and in the press,

 

 

             24               with regards to the various powers and

 

             25               authorities of the various levels of

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          11

 

              1               government that are involved in any situation

 

              2               such as this, and that is us, the local

 

              3               government, the State Government and the

 

 

              4               Federal Government.

 

              5                       Numerous questions have been asked.

 

              6               Relevant, pointed questions that I am going to

 

              7               attempt to address and answer to the best of

 

 

              8               my abilities.

 

              9                       We will then have a public comment

 

             10               portion following those presentations, and I

 

             11               will speak more to that procedure that we will

 

 

             12               be following for that when we start the public

 

             13               comment portion.  So with that said, just a

 

             14               couple of other things:  We intend to

 

             15               summarize our goals.  We will again talk about

 

 

             16               debt with the funding operations and funding

 

             17               sources and tax impacts.  I note that Mr.

 

             18               Solberg was in the hallway, but I do not know

 

             19               if I see him in this room.  If any

 

 

             20               representative of Solberg Aviation wishes to

 

             21               present any information, they will be given

 

             22               the opportunity to do so this evening.  They

 

             23               are invited to do so, as they have always been

 

 

             24               invited to do so.  Then again, we will open it

 

             25               up to the public for comments.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          12

 

              1                       Now, if you will give us a moment, we

 

              2               are just going to shift the microphones to

 

              3               that table and ask Jay Rhatican to vacate, if

 

 

              4               he would.

 

              5                       Thank you for your patience.  We are

 

              6               trying to figure out the best way to do this

 

              7               logistically, and this seems to make sense,

 

 

              8               because we will be referring to certain

 

              9               slides, and we have other material that we can

 

             10               work off of.  So I will wait for somebody to

 

             11               tell me that that things is up and we can

 

 

             12               begin.

 

             13                       Mr. Gatti, as soon as you give me the

 

             14               green light, we will get started.

 

             15                       We will begin with slide one.  I am

 

 

             16               going to move through this as quickly as

 

             17               possible, ladies and gentlemen, because I know

 

             18               there are a lot of you that want to comment.

 

             19               But there is a lot of additional material that

 

 

             20               I think needs to be addressed to the public,

 

             21               and before we start, is there any way that we

 

             22               can leave some type of light on back here so

 

             23               maybe I can read?

 

 

             24                       Just to review.  The Township has had

 

             25               longstanding goals of preservation of Solberg

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          13

 

              1               Airport.  Going back to the Township Master

 

              2               Plan in the mid 1990s, and earlier than that,

 

              3               this site has been identified by both the

 

 

              4               local government, by Hunterdon County and by

 

              5               the State of New Jersey as a high priority

 

              6               preservation area.  It is always and continues

 

              7               to be a goal of the Township to maintain the

 

 

              8               airport and see the airport maintained in its

 

              9               current configuration, and when we talk about

 

             10               configuration, we necessarily talk about

 

             11               runway length.  Finally, consistent with

 

 

             12               longstanding policies of the Township, it has

 

             13               always been the goal of this Township for

 

             14               years, if not decades, for preservation of

 

             15               this tract and preservation of the 650 acres

 

 

             16               of open space surrounding the airport.

 

             17                       Now, back in August of 2005, the bond

 

             18               ordinance which was similar, if not the same

 

             19               as the ordinance that is here for considera-

 

 

             20               tion this evening, was introduced and then

 

             21               withdrawn by this Committee at its August 22,

 

             22               2005, meeting.  This taking place following an

 

             23               agreement being reached with Solberg Aviation

 

 

             24               to conduct good faith negotiations in an

 

             25               attempt to resolve this longstanding issue

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          14

 

              1               that has been here in our township.  Six

 

              2               negotiation sessions took place over a five-

 

              3               month period.  Those were attended by

 

 

              4               Committeewoman Allen, then Mayor Gatti, our

 

              5               counsel, Jay Rhatigan, the three Solbergs and

 

              6               their lawyer from Morristown, he is an

 

              7               attorney, Lawrence Berger.  I believe that is

 

 

              8               it.

 

              9                       On January 2, 2006, at the final

 

             10               negotiation session, the negotiations were

 

             11               effectively terminated.  It was reported back

 

 

             12               to this Committee by Mr. Gatti and by Mrs.

 

             13               Allen that the Township's insistence on

 

             14               maintenance of this runway length that is

 

             15               currently 3,735 feet, was of paramount

 

 

             16               importance to this Township, and this Township

 

             17               was not interested in seeing the runway

 

             18               lengthened at all beyond that length.  They

 

             19               were told at that point that, essentially, we

 

 

             20               were wasting our time.  This is through their

 

             21               counsel.

 

             22                       The parties got up, they shook hands

 

             23               and walked out.

 

 

             24                       We then conducted a public information

 

             25               hearing or meeting, rather, in this room on

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          15

 

              1               January 17th, and it was at that point that

 

              2               rather detailed information was presented to

 

              3               the public with respect to the negotiations,

 

 

              4               with respect to some general aviation

 

              5               materials and information.  Environmental

 

              6               experts spoke, we had a noise expert as well,

 

              7               and much, if not all, of this information is

 

 

              8               posted on the Township website and I would

 

              9               urge our residents to please take the time, if

 

             10               you can, and review this information.  It may

 

             11               generate questions, comments, criticisms and

 

 

             12               what have you.  But it has all been posted.

 

             13                       Again, on February 6th, the Township

 

             14               Committee authorized an appraisal to be done

 

             15               with respect to the property.

 

 

             16                       Slide three.  Where are negotiations

 

             17               today?  As reported at the January 17th

 

             18               meeting, the Township's position is as

 

             19               follows:  The Township is offering Solberg

 

 

             20               Aviation $22 million, and the Solbergs would

 

             21               retain the airport as it exists today.  It

 

             22               would be preserved.  The existing runways

 

             23               would not be lengthened; however, there is

 

 

             24               only 3,000 feet paved right now, and there is

 

             25               a remaining 735 feet that could be paved.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          16

 

              1               That is something that there would be no

 

              2               objection to.  So it keeps the existing

 

              3               runways not to be lengthened, that is, from

 

 

              4               their licensed length.  The hangar space, in a

 

              5               nut shell and, as reported at the January 17th

 

              6               meeting, Solberg Aviation's initial demand was

 

              7               for a 5,600-foot runway, the same being told

 

 

              8               to us as being non-starter or anything less

 

              9               than that, and then one million square feet of

 

             10               office and hangar space is being requested.

 

             11               In the course of the negotiations, the runway

 

 

             12               length demand was slid back a bit by Solberg

 

             13               Aviation to 5,000 feet, and the requested

 

             14               hangar and office space was reduced to 500,000

 

             15               square feet.

 

 

             16                       Just by point of comparison,

 

             17               Morristown Airport, if any of you are familiar

 

             18               with it, has about 500,000 square feet of

 

             19               Hangar and office space.

 

 

             20                       The Township would acquire and

 

             21               preserve the 600 acres of open space.  The

 

             22               open space around the airport would be

 

             23               permanently preserved, and the cost of up to

 

 

             24               $22 million would be reimbursed through State

 

             25               open space grants.  Mrs. Allen will speak

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          17

 

              1               specifically as to the funding issues, so I

 

              2               will not delve into those areas at all right

 

              3               now.  There has been some confusion, and a

 

 

              4               little bit of misinformation, as to what is

 

              5               and what is not available, and we will speak

 

              6               to that.

 

              7                       Both the airport and the site's

 

 

              8               considerable natural resources would be

 

              9               protected under this scenario.

 

             10                       Currently, as most recently expressed

 

             11               in the private negotiation sessions that I

 

 

             12               referred to, the Solbergs' position is the

 

             13               following:  That the airport be allowed to

 

             14               expand, in the sense the runway would be paved

 

             15               out to a 5,000 foot paved primary runway.

 

 

             16               That is slightly longer than the requested

 

             17               runway that was contained in the airport

 

             18               Master Plan and the Airport Layout Plan of

 

             19               1991, which called for a 4,900 foot runway.

 

 

             20               For some reason, it has grown to 5,000 from

 

             21               that.  They would also like to pave out to

 

             22               3,700 feet the cross-winds runway.

 

             23                       Now, there is a diagram here that has

 

 

             24               been handed out before, and it gives the lay

 

             25               of the land and configuration of the runways

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          18

 

              1               with regard to the roads that are nearby, with

 

              2               regards to the location of the school and the

 

              3               middle school.  So it is helpful to get your

 

 

              4               hands on that so they can be put into

 

              5               perspective.  They are requesting 500,000

 

              6               square feet of hangar and office space, and

 

              7               they have proposed certain restrictions on

 

 

              8               noise and nighttime operations, the specifics

 

              9               of which I am unaware.

 

             10                       They also indicated that the future

 

             11               expansion would be limited per the 1999

 

 

             12               Airport Layout Plan, which again the runway

 

             13               length exceeds that.  So obviously, that would

 

             14               have to be fleshed out a little bit more.

 

             15                       The remaining open space over to us

 

 

             16               for preservation is those parcels not

 

             17               necessary or essential to the expansion plans

 

             18               of the airport.  For those parcels which are

 

             19               rather carved up and scattered throughout the

 

 

             20               overall tract, Solberg Aviation is asking $36

 

             21               million.

 

             22                       We would like to move forward with

 

             23               more productive negotiations, because we feel

 

 

             24               that it is time to negotiate seriously.  All

 

             25               we have had to work with so far with regard to

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          19

 

              1               the position of Solberg Aviation has come from

 

              2               two sources, one has been the positions that

 

              3               have been enunciated by Solberg in the private

 

 

              4               negotiation sessions which we have made known

 

              5               to the public, and the other information that

 

              6               has been presented to the public by Solberg

 

              7               Aviation is that which has been reported in

 

 

              8               the newspaper articles, editorials and letters

 

              9               that have been sent out by Solberg Aviation.

 

             10               The two are 100 percent inconsistent with one

 

             11               another.  We need to know the truth.  It is

 

 

             12               time for some honesty, and we need to know

 

             13               exactly what the position of Solberg Aviation

 

             14               is, and we need to hear it from one voice, not

 

             15               three, one.

 

 

             16                       So it is time to get serious about

 

             17               negotiations and, therefore, we have

 

             18               commissioned the appraisals to be commenced

 

             19               and, therefore, this bond ordinance.  We will

 

 

             20               put the money on the table for use in our

 

             21               future negotiations, if they take place.

 

             22                       Now, on to slide six.  Why $22

 

             23               million?  Why bond for $22 million?  Well,

 

 

             24               this is a not to exceed number.  And again,

 

             25               and analogizing it to taking out a home equity

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          20

 

              1               line for $22 million and spending 10 or 15 or

 

              2               whatever, it is the same concept.  It is a not

 

              3               to exceed amount.  It has some basis,

 

 

              4               recently, in our recent offer to the Solbergs

 

              5               last summer of $22 million for the 650 acres

 

              6               of open space, but it is not the offer to

 

              7               Solberg for the entire tract, including the

 

 

              8               airport.

 

              9                       Why buy the open space and not the

 

             10               airport?  Well, a couple of reasons.  As

 

             11               indicated earlier, it is the Solberg family's

 

 

             12               preference as well as the preference of this

 

             13               Committee, that ownership of the airport

 

             14               remain in Solberg Aviation.  Readington

 

             15               Township can achieve its longstanding planning

 

 

             16               and policy goals, which stands for four

 

             17               decades of coming to be in the state they are

 

             18               in today in terms of our Master Plan and its

 

             19               amendments, and all of that has gone on for

 

 

             20               four decades.  Those goals could be

 

             21               accomplished by preserving the 650 acres of

 

             22               open space and purchasing the development

 

             23               easement on the 76 acre airport.

 

 

             24                       At this point, we are going to move to

 

             25               slide eight, I will turn the microphone over

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          21

 

              1               to Committeewoman Julia Allen, who will speak

 

              2               to open space funding options and the funds

 

              3               available, and she will attempt to answer,

 

 

              4               hopefully, in advance, many of the questions

 

              5               you may have about funding and also any of the

 

              6               questions that have already been raised.  So I

 

              7               will turn it over to Mrs. Allen.

 

 

              8                       MS. ALLEN:  Good evening.  With

 

              9               respect to open space funding options, the

 

             10               most heavily relied on funding option for

 

             11               Readington Township has been and will continue

 

 

             12               to be the State Green Acres Program.  Under

 

             13               the State Green Acres Program, there are

 

             14               several different programs available to

 

             15               preserve open land.  One is the direct State

 

 

             16               acquisition.  This is a program in which the

 

             17               State buys the property, it is retained by the

 

             18               State, and 100 percent of the value is paid

 

             19               for by the State. 

 

 

             20                       Just to summarize, the acquisitions

 

             21               are made by the State with 100 percent State

 

             22               funds.  The money is still readily available

 

             23               for projects of statewide significance.  The

 

 

             24               land is purchased and retained by the State.

 

             25               The land would be managed by the State as a

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          22

 

              1               wild life management area; the land can be

 

              2               prepurchased by the Township, and this has

 

              3               been done in five different instances already

 

 

              4               in Readington Township.  Most recently, the

 

              5               Fallone property on Rockefeller Mills Road,

 

              6               and the YEF property on Lamington River.

 

              7                       The State is more likely to be

 

 

              8               interested in large contiguous tracts for this

 

              9               program.  Solberg Airport is designated as a

 

             10               natural heritage priority site, making it a

 

             11               State priority, and Solberg Airport is one of

 

 

             12               the best examples of grassland habitat of

 

             13               threatened and endangered species, and as

 

             14               such, has statewide priority for preservation.

 

             15                       The next, under Green Acres, is the

 

 

             16               Municipal Grants Program, and this is a 50

 

             17               percent share.  The grants are available to

 

             18               townships that have adopted open space plans

 

             19               and have a dedicated open space tax and an

 

 

             20               open space trust fund.  Readington has both.

 

             21               The grants are made at 50 percent of the land

 

             22               value.  Value as in all open space

 

             23               preservation programs is determined by

 

 

             24               appraisals.  Readington has obtained grants

 

             25               for almost ten years under the Municipal

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          23

 

              1               Grants Program.  The land reserved as a result

 

              2               of this funding would be owned by the Township

 

              3               and available for the Township's recreational

 

 

              4               purposes, and that would be both active and

 

              5               passive.

 

              6                       The next is the New Jersey

 

              7               Environmental Infrastructure Trust Program.

 

 

              8               This is not a grant program, it is a loan

 

              9               program with low interest.  The money comes

 

             10               from Federal sources, the Federal Clean Water

 

             11               Act, and the way the low interest loan works,

 

 

             12               75 percent of the value is loaned interest

 

             13               free and 25 percent of the value is loaned at

 

             14               market rate interest.  The Township would own

 

             15               the preserved land, but the land would have a

 

 

             16               conservation easement, which allows absolutely

 

             17               no disturbance, and possibly some massive

 

             18               recreation opportunities.

 

             19                       The next and last possibility that we

 

 

             20               are anticipating, but there are other

 

             21               possibilities that would be available to us if

 

             22               we needed them, but the last is the County

 

             23               Open Space Trust Fund, and that, generally,

 

 

             24               traditionally, is paying 20 percent on the

 

             25               cost share of qualifying projects.  The

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          24

 

              1               municipality can apply to the County for

 

              2               financing a project in the Open Space Trust

 

              3               Fund and they generally approve one that

 

 

              4               represents the County Master Plan, and Solberg

 

              5               property is found on the County Open Space

 

              6               Plan.

 

              7                       Next slide.

 

 

              8                       One question that appears to be asked

 

              9               fairly often is, are open space funds

 

             10               available?  The answer to this question is

 

             11               predominantly answered by explaining the

 

 

             12               provision of the Garden State Preservation

 

             13               Trust Act.  This is an Act that was passed in

 

             14               1998, after a November 1998 referendum in the

 

             15               State of New Jersey, because of a favorable

 

 

             16               vote.  Money was constitutionally dedicated

 

             17               for open space purposes, a total of $2 million

 

             18               over a ten year period from 1999 to 2009, of

 

             19               which $1.7 million has already been

 

 

             20               appropriated in the fiscal years 2000 to 2006.

 

             21               There is still some money available for new

 

             22               projects for fiscal years 2007 to 2009.  This

 

             23               money will be available for new projects, and

 

 

             24               this is an iron clad procedure that sets up

 

             25               this money and dedicates it for open space, as

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          25

 

              1               I said before.  It was a constitutional

 

              2               amendment that set up the trust fund.  Undoing

 

              3               that trust fund would also take a

 

 

              4               constitutional amendment, which would include

 

              5               a vote of all of the citizens of the State of

 

              6               New Jersey.

 

              7                       Needless to say, nobody anticipates

 

 

              8               this happening.  No governor or legislature

 

              9               can touch this money and use it for any other

 

             10               purpose without going back to the voters of

 

             11               the State of New Jersey.  So we are confident

 

 

             12               that this money will be available to us, and

 

             13               the money that has already been allocated,

 

             14               which in Readington's case is considerable,

 

             15               will be forthcoming.

 

 

             16                       In the Garden State Preservation Trust

 

             17               Act funds, both the Green Acres Program and

 

             18               the Farmland Preservation Program, Green Acres

 

             19               uses 60 percent of the funding and farmland

 

 

             20               preservation is approximately 40 percent.

 

             21                       The next source of funding is the

 

             22               Federal Clean Water Act, and this is the

 

             23               source of the low interest loan from the New

 

 

             24               Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust that

 

             25               is set aside for projects that protect water

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          26

 

              1               quality.  This money is plentiful for

 

              2               townships that follow a very rigorous grant

 

              3               application procedure. 

 

 

              4                       The third source of money that we

 

              5               talked about was the County Open Space Trust

 

              6               Fund, and the citizens of Hunterdon County

 

              7               recently voted on a three cents per $100 of

 

 

              8               assessed valuation to be collected annually

 

              9               from all of the townships in Hunterdon County

 

             10               over the next five years, beginning in 2006.

 

             11               This is continuing a trust fund that was set

 

 

             12               up in the year 2000 and continued through

 

             13               2005.  Readington, last year, in 2005,

 

             14               contributed almost a million dollars or

 

             15               $971,000 to this fund, and Readington is

 

 

             16               entitled to reimbursement on projects of its

 

             17               choice, and projects of importance to the

 

             18               County.  This project, as I mentioned, is on

 

             19               the County Open Space Fund, so that is about

 

 

             20               it.

 

             21                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I want to turn it over

 

             22               to Committeeman Frank Gatti, who will speak to

 

             23               the tax impact on the average homeowner.

 

 

             24                       Do you need help down there?

 

             25                       MR. GATTI:  No, I am set.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          27

 

              1                       I just want to state that as a

 

              2               township, we can bond up to three and a half

 

              3               percent of our equalized value of property,

 

 

              4               which currently stands at approximately $3

 

              5               million.  So based on today's equalized value

 

              6               of property in Readington Township, this

 

              7               Township can bond up to $103 million, as it

 

 

              8               stands right now.  Our debt is approximately

 

              9               $47 million.  Of this amount, the Township is

 

             10               due approximately $17 million in reimburse-

 

             11               ments from farmland preservation and the Open

 

 

             12               Space Fund, which Julia Allen just spoke

 

             13               about.

 

             14                       Sixty-five to 70 percent of our debt

 

             15               comprises land debt.  If this bond passes

 

 

             16               tonight, our debt will be approximately $69

 

             17               million, which represents 2.35 percent of the

 

             18               equalized assessment basis that I previously

 

             19               spoke to you about, which is well within the

 

 

             20               three and a half percent limit.

 

             21                       I would like to point out that our

 

             22               current bond rating here in the township by

 

             23               Standard & Poor's is double A, which is one of

 

 

             24               the highest ratings.  But what is the impact

 

             25               on the average homeowner?  The theoretical

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          28

 

              1               $400,000 home, I believe the assessment in

 

              2               Readington Township is 380,000.  For the sake

 

              3               of numbers, we are using $400,000.  Basically,

 

 

              4               what it boils down to is that if we are able

 

              5               to achieve getting these open space funds,

 

              6               which we have been very successful in the

 

              7               past, our long-term bonding would be $60 per

 

 

              8               year for this $400,000 home.  Again, that is

 

              9               with the anticipated Green Acres grant and the

 

             10               low interest loans that are available to the

 

             11               New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust.

 

 

             12                       I would like to point out at this time

 

             13               that these numbers were calculated by our

 

             14               chief financial officer, Tom Powers, who works

 

             15               for us in the township.  So the worst case

 

 

             16               scenario is none of this will happen.  We will

 

             17               not get the open space.  The funds are all not

 

             18               going to come through.

 

             19                       Well, if that is the case, what the

 

 

             20               Township would be able to do is the Township

 

             21               will be able to still go ahead and do the     

 

             22               $22 million bond.  We can get notes for a

 

             23               period of three years and, basically, for

 

 

             24               those notes, we will have to pay the interest

 

             25               only on those notes, and after the three-year

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          29

 

              1               period, then you are required to bond.  So for

 

              2               the first three years, the impact of this

 

              3               $400,000 home would be roughly $55 a year.

 

 

              4               After that time, when we do the bonds, we go

 

              5               out and solicit to various financial

 

              6               institutions or bond council, and based on

 

              7               today's rates, it would cost the average

 

 

              8               homeowner or the average $400,000 homeowner

 

              9               about $65 a year.  Starting in the year four,

 

             10               $165 per year.  Again, this is the worst case

 

             11               scenario.  I want to make sure we are all on

 

 

             12               the same page as to what the bond is.  Even

 

             13               though we are discussing the bond tonight, we

 

             14               are, hopefully, going to vote on the bond

 

             15               tonight.  That doesn't mean tomorrow we wake

 

 

             16               up and start paying the $65 or $55 a year.

 

             17               What happens is that gives us the ability to

 

             18               continue negotiations with the family, the

 

             19               Solberg family and, hopefully, we will be able

 

 

             20               to consummate the deal.  At which time we will

 

             21               give them a downpayment, create a contract

 

             22               with a downpayment and then once, I guess, the

 

             23               contract is signed, the $22 million would be

 

 

             24               given to the family, and the Township would

 

             25               have to work on starting the funding.  And as

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          30

 

              1               previously mentioned, this Township has been

 

              2               successful in the past with prepurchasing land

 

              3               and then going out and finding money.  We have

 

 

              4               a fairly good feel for what commitments we

 

              5               will get ahead of time, and that process has

 

              6               already been started.

 

              7                       I would also like to point out at this

 

 

              8               time that based on today's numbers, this

 

              9               Township does have some additional ratables

 

             10               that will be coming on in the future for this

 

             11               Township.  We have two senior developments

 

 

             12               that are being planned, and in addition, we

 

             13               have the Belle Mead property up by Route 78,

 

             14               which could provide for approvals for about

 

             15               600,000 square feet of office space.  So that

 

 

             16               will offset the numbers I have discussed.

 

             17                       That is it, thank you.

 

             18                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Thank you very much.

 

             19               The next area we would like to address is, as

 

 

             20               I indicated earlier, just the various levels

 

             21               of authority and where we stand and all that

 

             22               as local government.  Because issues have been

 

             23               raised in that regard, and you are asking

 

 

             24               questions can this be forced on us and how

 

             25               does this work.  What authority does the local

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          31

 

              1               government have, et cetera, et cetera.  So I

 

              2               will try to go through this as quickly as I

 

              3               can.

 

 

              4                       First of all, by what authority does

 

              5               the FAA have control over airports?  Well,

 

              6               there are certain statutes, Federal statutes

 

              7               that are relevant to airports, and those are

 

 

              8               the ones enumerated on that slide.  I will

 

              9               read them to you.  The Airport and Airway

 

             10               Improvement Act deals a lot with physical

 

             11               characteristics, and states among one of its

 

 

             12               policies that, "Any airport expansion is

 

             13               funded through the Act to be undertaken to the

 

             14               maximum extent feasible."  Therefore, it is

 

             15               based on efficiency and safety.  The Airport

 

 

             16               Noise and Capacity Act, which is known as

 

             17               ANCA, established a national aviation noise

 

             18               policy.  So generally speaking, under these

 

             19               Federal statutes that exist and have been

 

 

             20               promulgated, numerous Federal regulations

 

             21               which pre-empt local regulations of airports,

 

             22               it comes back to the Interstate Commerce laws

 

             23               of the United States Constitution.  If an

 

 

             24               airport owner accepts Federal funds, the

 

             25               airport must comply with a host of these

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          32

 

              1               regulations, including prohibition on

 

              2               discrimination of types of aircraft.  As I

 

              3               said, the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of

 

 

              4               1990, it manages the national noise policy,

 

              5               and the FAA has interpreted this to mean that

 

              6               local issues relating to noise must take a

 

              7               back seat to national policy.  And I will cite

 

 

              8               a case on that shortly.

 

              9                       Again, if the airport owner accepts

 

             10               FAA money, it comes with grant conditions in

 

             11               the form of restrictions of what you can do in

 

 

             12               terms of limitation on noise and operations.

 

             13               I have already spoken about the Airport Noise

 

             14               and Capacity Act.

 

             15                       The regulations under that Act are not

 

 

             16               dependent upon Federal funding, but the

 

             17               failure to comply with them renders an airport

 

             18               operator unable to receive that Federal

 

             19               funding.  So the FAA is concerned, their main

 

 

             20               focus in on operations and noise and the like.

 

             21                       On the State level, that would

 

             22               probably take us to the next slide.  There is

 

             23               State legislation, this is slide 12, by what

 

 

             24               authority does the State of New Jersey have

 

             25               control over airports?  We have the State

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          33

 

              1               Aviation Act, which entrusts the supervision

 

              2               of aeronautics to the Commissioner of

 

              3               Transportation, and the New Jersey Airport

 

 

              4               Safety Act of 1983 broadened the

 

              5               Commissioner's power.

 

              6                       Now, on the State level, first of all,

 

              7               much has been raised about what land use

 

 

              8               control does the municipality have.  Well, the

 

              9               municipality already has diminished land use

 

             10               control as a result of the State legislation,

 

             11               which restricts the heights and the land use

 

 

             12               of sensitive areas around the runways.  But

 

             13               there is still some site plan control on the

 

             14               local level.  Even if a local site plan --

 

             15               even a local site plan approval would be

 

 

             16               restricted in the event of an FAA funding

 

             17               being received, and the FAA, generally, takes

 

             18               the position that local planning controls are

 

             19               pre-empted by Federal law.  Additionally, on

 

 

             20               the State level, the New Jersey DOT

 

             21               regulations bar an airport from having planes

 

             22               use the airport as long as the planes are

 

             23               physically capable to use the airport as

 

 

             24               applied by the FAA regulations.

 

             25                       Just to talk a little bit about the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          34

 

              1               local level and bring it all together to the

 

              2               best that I can -- first, one last thing on

 

              3               State law, that requires that the State law --

 

 

              4               the State law requires that N.J. DOT approve

 

              5               any airport expansion such as that proposed by

 

              6               the Solbergs in the 1997 Master Plan.  NJ DOT

 

              7               is empowered to override any local decisions,

 

 

              8               if to do so is in the best interest of the

 

              9               State Aviation policies.  Although land use is

 

             10               not pre-empted by State law, the local

 

             11               Planning Boards or Board of Adjustment would

 

 

             12               retain site plan review and approval powers,

 

             13               and although the NJ DOT must give some

 

             14               consideration to those authorities, Board of

 

             15               Adjustment, Planning Board, they need not

 

 

             16               defer to their decisions.  In other words, the

 

             17               State has the final say, not the Federal

 

             18               Government.

 

             19                       Now, a couple of other things about

 

 

             20               local zoning:  Although the underlying zoning

 

             21               does not permit an airport use and would

 

             22               otherwise require a variance for expansion of

 

             23               a non-conforming use, that is due to the fact

 

 

             24               that the airport is grandfathered in.  It is

 

             25               in a residential zone, it is a pre-existing

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          35

 

              1               non-conforming use, so to expand as it stands

 

              2               today, one would have to go to the Board of

 

              3               Adjustment for a variance.  This is New Jersey

 

 

              4               law that does require host municipalities to

 

              5               enable an ordinance to make it a conforming

 

              6               use.  Readington has never enacted such an

 

              7               ordinance.  That ordinance was litigated at

 

 

              8               one point, and although upheld as to

 

              9               constitutionality, this is the statute

 

             10               requiring us to rezone that I am talking

 

             11               about.  The Court ruled that the case really

 

 

             12               was not what they call ripe for adjudication.

 

             13               They didn't come to a ruling on it, and the

 

             14               reason they didn't come to a ruling on that

 

             15               statute is that the DOT had not yet

 

 

             16               promulgated the regulations that that Act

 

             17               requires.  So the process was not yet

 

             18               complete.  There is nothing to work to in

 

             19               terms of regulations that would implement that

 

 

             20               statute.  We have never adopted that

 

             21               ordinance.  We have never, although there was

 

             22               discussion between the Township and the State

 

             23               many years ago about adopting such an

 

 

             24               ordinance, those discussions ended and we do

 

             25               not -- right now it is a pre-existing non-

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          36

 

              1               conforming use.

 

              2                       With an application to be made for

 

              3               expansion and denied, of course, it would

 

 

              4               invite litigation, at which time maybe that

 

              5               statute would be litigated again.

 

              6                       How does that all tie together?  How

 

              7               likely is it that this would happen?  How

 

 

              8               would it all play itself out?  That is the

 

              9               real question here, I think. 

 

             10                       Solberg Airport is a designated

 

             11               reliever airport under a Federal -- it is

 

 

             12               called the National Plan of Integrated Airport

 

             13               Systems.  This is a 2005-2009 report, and

 

             14               Solberg Airport, Solberg Aviation both

 

             15               requested and then received reliever airport

 

 

             16               status.  What that does is it allows the

 

             17               airport -- it makes that airport eligible as a

 

             18               sponsor to accessing grant funding for the

 

             19               Airport Improvement Fund.  All control over

 

 

             20               what improvements are planned for an airport

 

             21               are initiated by the airport sponsor.  So I

 

             22               want to be clear about that.  It is not that

 

             23               the FAA goes around the country looking for

 

 

             24               airports to expand, the sponsor comes to them.

 

             25                       So the expansion plans are initiated

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          37

 

              1               by the sponsor and approved and potentially

 

              2               funded by the FAA, and that is without any

 

              3               intervention or input by local or State

 

 

              4               authority, which I will get to in a moment.

 

              5                       The process of expansion is laid out

 

              6               in Federal regulations, and this is what took

 

              7               place starting back in 1997 to 1999 and 2000.

 

 

              8               The sponsor develops an airport Master Plan

 

              9               which was done, which was then reviewed and

 

             10               determined to be complying with FAA regs, and

 

             11               then an Airport Layout Plan was drawn up based

 

 

             12               on that document.  The FAA gave Solberg

 

             13               Aviation, back in 1999, conditional approval

 

             14               of its Airport Improvement Plan and its

 

             15               Airport Layout Plan.  We need to be clear and

 

 

             16               to remember that that has already been done,

 

             17               and that was based upon a 4,890 foot main

 

             18               runway.  I was involved in that process as

 

             19               well as many members of the Committee, and the

 

 

             20               sponsor has to conduct an environmental

 

             21               assessment based upon something called the FAA

 

             22               Environmental Handbook, and the sponsor has to

 

             23               come up with a finding of no significant

 

 

             24               impact in a variety of areas.  That would be

 

             25               noise, air pollution, impact on historic

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          38

 

              1               sites, water resources, et cetera.  If any

 

              2               area does not meet the appropriate standard,

 

              3               then you must do a full environmental impact

 

 

              4               study.  It is a higher level of scrutiny, but

 

              5               only as to those items that don't pass muster

 

              6               the first time.

 

              7                       This process was started by Solberg

 

 

              8               Aviation through a consultant hired by the

 

              9               State of New Jersey called Clough Hargher, and

 

             10               I participated in those proceedings, as did

 

             11               Mrs. Allen and others on the Committee.

 

 

             12               Before I speak to those a little bit further,

 

             13               I just wanted to back up a step.

 

             14                       The Master Plan and Airport Layout

 

             15               Plan of Solberg Aviation, again, they are

 

 

             16               conditionally approved by the FAA and the DOT

 

             17               of 1999.  It should be noted that both of

 

             18               these approvals were granted over strong local

 

             19               objections, including written objections from

 

 

             20               the Readington Township Committee and

 

             21               Branchburg Township Committee, the Somerset

 

             22               County Board of Freeholders, our State

 

             23               Senators and Assembly people, over those

 

 

             24               strong local objections, and statewide on the

 

             25               part of our State representatives.  Those were

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          39

 

              1               ignored.  The FAA granted conditional

 

              2               approval.

 

              3                       Troubling evidence of how much import

 

 

              4               they give to the concerns of the community.

 

              5                       So that process took place, and I

 

              6               participated in it, but when I use the word

 

              7               "participate", I use it loosely and

 

 

              8               facetiously.  That is because when the process

 

              9               gets to that point, and we have been there,

 

             10               we, the local governing body, we, the

 

             11               community of Readington Township, we cease

 

 

             12               being participants and we are then spectators.

 

             13                       This was a self-fulfilling prophesy,

 

             14               there was no doubt in anyone's mind what the

 

             15               outcome of those proceedings was going to be.

 

 

             16               The only thing that stopped them was the

 

             17               Township had commenced its eminent domain

 

             18               proceedings and the State went in and went

 

             19               with the Solbergs.

 

 

             20                       In terms of public input of this

 

             21               environmental assessment, it consisted of

 

             22               going into a rather large room and you can sit

 

             23               with somebody at a table, log in your

 

 

             24               comments, your concerns and what have you.

 

             25               There would be a table relative to noise,

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          40

 

              1               relative to water quality or whatever.  It

 

              2               wasn't this large participatory meeting where

 

              3               representatives of the State and a consulting

 

 

              4               firm were asked questions directly and had to

 

              5               answer them in front of others, it was kind of

 

              6               a booth kind of setup.

 

              7                       In addition to that, we also conducted

 

 

              8               a series of, I won't call them hearings, they

 

              9               are more like meetings, and those were

 

             10               attended by representatives of Readington,

 

             11               Branchburg, Hunterdon and Somerset County

 

 

             12               Chambers of Commerce, Solberg Aviation, and I

 

             13               am trying to think of who else participated in

 

             14               those hearings.  What those meetings were, it

 

             15               was not a give-and-take session, it was simply

 

 

             16               reporting back to us what the findings were.

 

             17               Again, it was non-participatory, it was just

 

             18               that here is what we have, the process as I

 

             19               stated publicly before, and I stated it

 

 

             20               directly to the State hired consultants, the

 

             21               process was insulting, at best.

 

             22                       The treatment of real estate values,

 

             23               for example, in one of the reports they

 

 

             24               issued, and again they were 80 to 90 percent

 

             25               complete, the only thing left was a final

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          41

 

              1               report and a finding, and we all had no doubt

 

              2               that there was going to be a finding of

 

              3               significant impact.  But just as an example of

 

 

              4               how ridiculous this was and how insulting this

 

              5               was, in my view, the treatment as to the

 

              6               proposed impact on the expansion of real

 

              7               estate values was a scant paragraph on the

 

 

              8               bottom of one page that talked about how a few

 

              9               realtors had been consulted and then felt

 

             10               maybe, except for a certain few areas,

 

             11               generally speaking, it really shouldn't have

 

 

             12               any impact on real estate values.  That was

 

             13               it.  So the process was a cruel joke.

 

             14                       The question has been raised, if you

 

             15               can give me a minute here, is there a clear

 

 

             16               and present danger of an expansion and can it

 

             17               happen.  Well, you know, corporate jet travel

 

             18               is alive and well.  Teterboro and Morristown

 

             19               are at capacity.  Small jet manufacturers and

 

 

             20               operators are expanding operations nationwide.

 

             21               Current capacity, again, is strained.  The

 

             22               National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems,

 

             23               although this is a planning document, it is

 

 

             24               not a budget document, but it does set aside a

 

             25               line item of, I'm sorry, $12,750,000 for

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          42

 

              1               improvements at Solberg Airport.  When Mr.

 

              2               Solberg circulated a letter to the public

 

              3               saying it is an absolute lie by the officials

 

 

              4               and no monies have been allocated, there was

 

              5               some play on semantics going on there.  The

 

              6               fact of the matter is no, it is not on the

 

              7               pipeline, but it is on the planning document

 

 

              8               and, rather quickly, it can be placed into

 

              9               that pipeline, because the only thing that

 

             10               really needs to happen for this to move

 

             11               forward would be updating of the Master Plan

 

 

             12               and completion of the environmental assessment

 

             13               process.

 

             14                       I don't have any faith in that process

 

             15               whatsoever, and I don't think anyone else on

 

 

             16               this Committee does.

 

             17                       We covered the State, and I think I

 

             18               really already went over the slide about

 

             19               municipal authority over airports, and we will

 

 

             20               move on from there and just talk about a

 

             21               couple of other issues of concern and raise a

 

             22               few other points here.

 

             23                       We understand that there has been some

 

 

             24               polling that has been taking place.  We want

 

             25               the residents to know that the Township has

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          43

 

              1               absolutely nothing to do with the polling.  We

 

              2               haven't commissioned it, and I am in receipt

 

              3               of a handout that was brought in tonight from

 

 

              4               Mr. Solberg that indicates that apparently

 

              5               this was his poll and some of you can believe

 

              6               what you may, but obviously -- I will say

 

              7               this, that Frank Gatti and I had an

 

 

              8               opportunity to talk about polling with Mr.

 

              9               Solberg once before, and that was in the

 

             10               spring of last year when we met at the gazebo

 

             11               at the park, and this is when the first poll

 

 

             12               had come out, and we have had many residents

 

             13               tell us the kind of questions being asked and

 

             14               so forth.  I asked Mr. Solberg, we had asked

 

             15               him for a copy of the questions at that time,

 

 

             16               can we see the questions being asked of

 

             17               residents.  "Well, you can see some of those

 

             18               questions."  "Well, why can't we see all of

 

             19               the questions?"  "Because some of those

 

 

             20               questions are proprietary."  "Well, does that

 

             21               mean no answer?"  I have, to date, not seen

 

             22               one question that was asked of the residents

 

             23               other than that which was reported to me or to

 

 

             24               the rest of this Committee as to questions

 

             25               being asked.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          44

 

              1                       There has been a lot of information

 

              2               out in the public.  This Township Committee,

 

              3               we have posted everything humanly possible on

 

 

              4               our website.  Again, I urge you to visit that

 

              5               website.  I will also say that we will make

 

              6               this -- we will continue to make this process

 

              7               as transparent as possible.  The information

 

 

              8               that we have laid out for the public is

 

              9               information that is truthful and accurate and

 

             10               reflects what has taken place over the last

 

             11               many months.  Our public positions and

 

 

             12               pronouncements will now and will continue to

 

             13               be consistent with the positions we take in

 

             14               any private negotiations with Solberg

 

             15               Aviation.

 

 

             16                       Now, a lot of questions have been

 

             17               submitted.  They can be answered either by way

 

             18               of our consultants or one of us online.  There

 

             19               is the Mayor's e-mail, I am doing the best I

 

 

             20               can in answering all of those.  This folder

 

             21               here is the ones that I haven't answered yet.

 

             22               If anybody has e-mailed me or called me and

 

             23               not gotten a response yet, I want you to know

 

 

             24               you will get one, and I want you to know that

 

             25               I don't know when you will get one, but you

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          45

 

              1               will get one as soon as I can get one to you.

 

              2               I promise you that.  In the middle of this, I

 

              3               am also trying to make a living, so I can only

 

 

              4               spend so much time on that.  But they will be

 

              5               answered.

 

              6                       Technical questions, pass them along

 

              7               and we will pass them along to the

 

 

              8               consultants.

 

              9                       A couple of other things and then we

 

             10               will wrap it up here.  Okay.  That is as much

 

             11               information as we are able to present to the

 

 

             12               public at this time.  There is a lot to it, it

 

             13               is complicated when you get involved with

 

             14               various levels of authority, Federal, State,

 

             15               local -- in any event, I just want to address

 

 

             16               a few other things.

 

             17                       We can't stress enough how much this

 

             18               township will change if the runway is allowed

 

             19               to be lengthened and Federal funds are

 

 

             20               accepted to do so, because in order to

 

             21               implement the plan of Solberg Aviation, the

 

             22               only way to do it is to accept Federal monies,

 

             23               and when you accept Federal monies, you are

 

 

             24               locked in in terms of restrictions on

 

             25               operations, restrictions on noise and the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          46

 

              1               like.  I can give you a good example of that,

 

              2               if you bear with me, the City of Naples is an

 

              3               example, they are in Florida.  They own a

 

 

              4               municipal airport and passed an ordinance

 

              5               banning Stage 2 jets.  That is somewhat older

 

              6               and noisier jets.  It is a 1961 study, a noise

 

              7               study, and owners of those jets sued the City

 

 

              8               stating it was a violation of the commerce

 

              9               laws of the Constitution.  It was upheld in

 

             10               the Federal Court and in the State Court.  The

 

             11               FAA tried to say the noise study had defects,

 

 

             12               and they tried to block the ban.  The FAA

 

             13               argued they weren't bound by the Federal Court

 

             14               decision, and since they received Federal

 

             15               grants, they could decide if the Naples ban

 

 

             16               violated Federal law.

 

             17                       The FAA did just that, they determined

 

             18               the noise ban violated the Federal law, the

 

             19               Federal Grant Agreement, and was pre-empted by

 

 

             20               Federal law.

 

             21                       So that is a classic example.  A

 

             22               recent example of how acceptance of Federal

 

             23               money restricts you significantly in terms of

 

 

             24               operations and in terms of noise.

 

             25                       So why are we here tonight?  You are

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          47

 

              1               about to begin the public comments on this

 

              2               bond ordinance.  One thing that hasn't been

 

              3               addressed is the impact of the proposed

 

 

              4               expansion on property values.  We talked about

 

              5               quality of life, but we should also remember

 

              6               that property values are at stake.  We have

 

              7               questions about the cost of the acquisition,

 

 

              8               and rightfully so.  But we need to set those

 

              9               questions against the cost of lower property

 

             10               values for all of us, if the expansion goes

 

             11               through.

 

 

             12                       A lot of people are asking why are you

 

             13               doing this.  Why are you pursuing these

 

             14               options?  And in my view, and that of this

 

             15               Committee, I believe the cost of inaction is

 

 

             16               too high.  I would not be able to sleep at

 

             17               night if I were to leave this Committee and

 

             18               leave this to come what may in the future.

 

             19               This has gone on for far too long, and it is

 

 

             20               time for some closure.

 

             21                       I don't want to see through inaction

 

             22               something happen that will change the

 

             23               character of this town irrevocably.  And I

 

 

             24               particularly don't want to see it while I am

 

             25               sitting up here and neither does the rest of

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          48

 

              1               this Committee.  We have a responsibility to

 

              2               act in the best interests of the community.

 

              3                       I wanted to speak a little bit to the

 

 

              4               issue of a mediator that was proposed. I am

 

              5               100 percent opposed at this point to a

 

              6               mediator, and I think it would be an

 

              7               abrogation of my responsibilities and those of

 

 

              8               this Committee to hand this issue over to a

 

              9               mediator who, in all likelihood, will just

 

             10               split the difference, because the mediator has

 

             11               no stake in this.  The mediators -- the

 

 

             12               Township has goals, Solberg Aviation has

 

             13               goals, the mediator's goal is resolution of a

 

             14               dispute.  So I don't want to hand that off to

 

             15               somebody else, and I will also vote against

 

 

             16               that, unless we are down to the -- we are on

 

             17               the eve of a wonderful resolution of all of

 

             18               our issues, and we have achieved all of our

 

             19               goals and there are some things to iron out.

 

 

             20               Maybe at that point it would be helpful, but

 

             21               whether or not to accept business jets isn't

 

             22               any kind of a numerical split the difference

 

             23               question.  You don't look to the middle

 

 

             24               ground, and in the view of this Committee, any

 

             25               expansion of this runway beyond the licensed

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          49

 

              1               3,735 feet, will irrevocably, it will pave the

 

              2               way for corporate jets and will forever change

 

              3               the face of this township.

 

 

              4                       So we will not leave our natural

 

              5               resources or open space policies and our

 

              6               community character to the whim and chance of

 

              7               a third party that we don't know, who comes

 

 

              8               walking in here from out of town and says, "I

 

              9               can help you guys work this out."

 

             10                       I am not interested in meeting that

 

             11               person.  Readington should plan Readington.

 

 

             12                       (Applause.)

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Thank you.  I think

 

             14               I've talked enough.  I am sure you all agree

 

             15               with that.

 

 

             16                       Now, the public hearing, give me one

 

             17               more minute here to find one piece of paper.

 

             18               What we will do is lift the screen, turn on

 

             19               some lights up here and shift back over here

 

 

             20               and we will open.  Before we open the meeting,

 

             21               I will ask the Committee if they have anything

 

             22               to say, if any Committee members have anything

 

             23               further to add to what was presented.

 

 

             24                       We will open the microphone for public

 

             25               comments and, in keeping with past procedure

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          50

 

              1               with meetings of this size, we will limit each

 

              2               speaker's time to two minutes.  However, we

 

              3               will, of course, be reasonable and we will be

 

 

              4               flexible.  We will make every reasonable

 

              5               effort possible that everybody can be heard.

 

              6               We ask that everybody extend the courtesies

 

              7               they would expect from their neighbors when

 

 

              8               they are speaking.  Please don't interrupt

 

              9               each other.  Please listen to the comments of

 

             10               the other speakers to save some time.  If you

 

             11               hear a comment which has been made before,

 

 

             12               perhaps we can move on to the next speaker to

 

             13               avoid repetition, and receive as much input as

 

             14               possible from the public.

 

             15                       I ask when you come to the microphone

 

 

             16               that you sign in and identify yourself by name

 

             17               and residence address.  Be sure to speak

 

             18               clearly into the microphone so the

 

             19               Stenographer can take down everything that you

 

 

             20               have said.

 

             21                       Let us get resituated, and we will get

 

             22               started.

 

             23                       One other thing, if you could spell

 

 

             24               your name for the record as well.  With regard

 

             25               to questions, we can't entertain questions

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          51

 

              1               from the podium because, based upon past

 

              2               experience, although we may want to try to

 

              3               answer a question quickly and get something

 

 

              4               out of the way, and that is my tendency to try

 

              5               to do that, but oftentimes it leads into a

 

              6               question-and-answer session, and one speaker

 

              7               takes up too much time and other people don't

 

 

              8               get to speak.  So if you do have a question,

 

              9               you can go ahead and ask it, and we will be

 

             10               taking down as many of your questions as we

 

             11               can, and at the conclusion of the public

 

 

             12               comments, the Committee will answer as many

 

             13               questions as possible.  If you feel yourself

 

             14               that your question hasn't been answered, hand

 

             15               it in in writing to me or to Vita and make

 

 

             16               sure to give your name, address and phone

 

             17               number and your e-mail address and we will get

 

             18               you an answer as soon as possible.

 

             19                       Again, we are not going to be able to

 

 

             20               engage in a debate.  This is a public comment

 

             21               on an ordinance.  What we will try to do --

 

             22               before we begin, does any member of the

 

             23               Committee have anything they would like to add

 

 

             24               to any of the information that has been

 

             25               presented so far?

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          52

 

              1                       MR. AURIEMMA:  I would like to speak

 

              2               to one point that wasn't mentioned this

 

              3               evening.  I would like to speak to the letter

 

 

              4               that Mr. Solberg sent to the members of our

 

              5               Township last week in an effort to keep us all

 

              6               informed.  Unfortunately, I think there was

 

              7               some misinformation in this letter, most of

 

 

              8               which was corrected this evening.  However,

 

              9               there was one line that I would like to see

 

             10               supported by the airport owners this evening,

 

             11               and that line is "We are happy with the

 

 

             12               airport the way it is."

 

             13                       With utmost respect to Mr. Solberg, I

 

             14               think you need to reaffirm your intentions to

 

             15               the residents this evening.  If you are happy

 

 

             16               with the airport as it exists, you need to

 

             17               commit to this community that you will not

 

             18               expand the runway beyond its current 3,735

 

             19               feet in perpetuity.

 

 

             20                       (Applause.)

 

             21                       MR. AURIEMMA:  And that you, your

 

             22               sisters and business partners will put pen to

 

             23               paper and make a commitment of no expansion to

 

 

             24               the residents of Readington Township.

 

             25                       (Applause.)

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          53

 

              1                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Is there anything

 

              2               further from the Committee?  Okay.  Following

 

              3               our normal procedure, what we will do here is

 

 

              4               start in the front row.  We could start in the

 

              5               back row, but -- no, we will start in the

 

              6               front row.  We will go across and do both

 

              7               sides of the room.  If you would like to

 

 

              8               speak, you can start to queue up, if you will,

 

              9               at the microphone to keep things moving.

 

             10                       MR. VERNON:  My name is Ray Vernon,

 

             11               and I live on Rockefeller Mills Road.

 

 

             12                       I say if this is supposed to be for

 

             13               the township, let the people of the township

 

             14               decide our fate, not you people up there who

 

             15               are lying to us.  You understand that the

 

 

             16               changes and all the grants you have to meet,

 

             17               it is not going to be a grant, it is going to

 

             18               be a loan.  You will not get the money from

 

             19               the State, you are going to have to borrow the

 

 

             20               money, which means it will come out of our

 

             21               pockets, your pockets, your pockets, your

 

             22               pockets and your pocket.  It will come out of

 

             23               everybody's pocket here.

 

 

             24                       They also put in here that if you give

 

             25               farmland preservation, and if you also try to

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          54

 

              1               go in for a tax deduction on farmland

 

              2               assessment, apparently, that will no longer be

 

              3               allowed.  The State is in debt.  This County

 

 

              4               is in debt.  They are going to start cutting

 

              5               money someplace.  They are going to start

 

              6               holding back and making it harder for people

 

              7               to get money, and they are doing it here.  You

 

 

              8               have to read the criteria of about 5,000

 

              9               people per square mile.  No Hunterdon

 

             10               municipality comes close to that figure.

 

             11                       When this battle all started -- when

 

 

             12               did it start?  What year?

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  This is public comment.

 

             14                       MR. VERNON:  I was just wondering,

 

             15               because once again, if you push the runway in

 

 

             16               and you put a field in, even if you go in your

 

             17               safety map, it is out of the safety zone. I

 

             18               don't want to see what happened up at

 

             19               Teterboro happen here, nobody does.  But let

 

 

             20               the people decide their fate.  Let them do it.

 

             21                       Even if you are against it, even if

 

             22               you are against the airport, then let the

 

             23               people vote on this.  Don't let these people

 

 

             24               tell you the way it is supposed to be, you

 

             25               have to decide for yourself.  You are supposed

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          55

 

              1               to be a government for the people, not the

 

              2               selective people up there on stage.  Thank

 

              3               you.

 

 

              4                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Thank you.

 

              5                       MS. MEKOVETZ:  Will you sign your

 

              6               name, sir, we're trying to keep a record of

 

              7               who spoke.

 

 

              8                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Okay, next.

 

              9                       MS. KRUG:  My name is Ingelore Krug at

 

             10               20 Old Readington Road in Whitehouse Station.

 

             11                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You have to get in

 

 

             12               closer to the microphone.

 

             13                       MS. KRUG:  What can I tell you? 

 

             14                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Just speak up a little,

 

             15               if you would.  The mike should pick it up.

 

 

             16                       MS. KRUG:  I have been a resident of

 

             17               Readington Township since 1962.  At that time,

 

             18               there was this thing about the jetport is

 

             19               coming, the jetport is coming.  I have lived

 

 

             20               with the airport all these years that I have

 

             21               been here.  My son learned to fly at the

 

             22               airport, he is a pilot, he flies for American

 

             23               Airlines.  He flies commuter planes.  I asked

 

 

             24               him about the length of the runway, could he

 

             25               land the plane that he flies for American

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          56

 

              1               Airlines on that runway, and he said oh, yes,

 

              2               he could, but he would not be able to take

 

              3               off, because that would not be long enough.  I

 

 

              4               can't tell you what he is flying, it is a

 

              5               commuter and it is a jet.

 

              6                       I want to urge everybody to vote for

 

              7               our freedom for the fact that we should be

 

 

              8               able to live in peace and harmony and don't

 

              9               give us any more taxes that we can't afford.

 

             10               I am one of the oldest people here, and I am

 

             11               being forced out.  My son was forced out, he

 

 

             12               couldn't afford to live here.  Thank you.

 

             13                       MR. LISKOVEC:  My name is Larry

 

             14               Liskovec, Old Farm Road.

 

             15                       This is the first meeting I have

 

 

             16               attended.  I want to thank all of you for

 

             17               having saved so much of the property that

 

             18               there is around here for preservation.

 

             19                       (Applause.)

 

 

             20                       MR. LISKOVEC:  I would also like to

 

             21               make two statements:  One is that I hope you

 

             22               bring this to a conclusion, a final,

 

             23               irrevocable conclusion, and I hope you do not

 

 

             24               limit yourself in the means you have available

 

             25               to yourself.  The last statement I wish to

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          57

 

              1               make is I am perfectly willing to pay

 

              2               additional taxes, ten times anything you

 

              3               project tonight so that this matter is

 

 

              4               resolved.

 

              5                       With that, thank you.

 

              6                       (Applause.)

 

              7                       MR. RUDD:  If I had known this type of

 

 

              8               thing was taking place nine years ago when I

 

              9               bought my house in Whitehouse, I probably

 

             10               would have not purchased it.  I would not have

 

             11               purchased it or come into this area, I would

 

 

             12               have gone elsewhere.  That would have affected

 

             13               property values, less than people purchasing

 

             14               here.

 

             15                       MS. DRAGAN:  You have to allow the

 

 

             16               speakers to say their piece.  We have a Court

 

             17               Reporter here who is trying to take down an

 

             18               accurate transcript of the hearing, and she

 

             19               can't do it with people doing cat calls and

 

 

             20               other things in the back.  Please.

 

             21                       MR. MELLOS:  My name is Joe Mellos,

 

             22               and I have lived here for the past 33 or 34

 

             23               years, whatever it is.  All I could say is no

 

 

             24               more taxes.  I pay already $8,190 a year for

 

             25               taxes that I pay, this is too much money.  Who

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          58

 

              1               is this committee there to protect the

 

              2               taxpayers?  Nobody, every year the taxes go up

 

              3               and up and up, and no more taxes.  I feel that

 

 

              4               the airport there, there must be opportunities

 

              5               for the insiders who will make this happen.

 

              6               For instance, I have here a flyer about Ms.

 

              7               Julia Allen saying we will get $44,000, that

 

 

              8               is the taxpayers, that is the money.  Now I

 

              9               can't say, for the Committee, I don't know,

 

             10               because that is what I see, and I don't know

 

             11               what is going on.  I hear Ms. Allen now make

 

 

             12               it sound like this would not cost the

 

             13               taxpayers anything.  Why do we need the 22

 

             14               million, then?  Why can't we have Solberg

 

             15               speak his mind here in front of everybody to

 

 

             16               say what he has to say?  We only hear one side

 

             17               of the story every time.  Why can't he say

 

             18               something?  The citizens don't want to pay

 

             19               more taxes in this county.  Thank you.  No

 

 

             20               more taxes, that is all I have to say.

 

             21                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Before we take any

 

             22               further public comments, one thing I stated,

 

             23               we would like to give the Solbergs the

 

 

             24               opportunity to be heard or to present any

 

             25               information.  I saw Mr. Solberg in the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          59

 

              1               hallway.  Is any member of the Solberg

 

              2               Aviation in the audience that would like to be

 

              3               heard?  I guess he didn't want to come in the

 

 

              4               room.

 

              5                       MR. JONES:  My name is Michael Jones,

 

              6               33 Oakland Drive West in Whitehouse Station.

 

              7                       I did not live here for as long as

 

 

              8               many people in this audience and certainly not

 

              9               as long as people who sit on the Municipal

 

             10               Council, but it seems like we have had a

 

             11               love/hate relationship with this facility for

 

 

             12               quite some time.  It is kind of ironic that

 

             13               the use that predated the first zoning

 

             14               ordinance in our community is now a pre-

 

             15               existing non-conforming use.  After all, the

 

 

             16               airport was here before most of us that are

 

             17               sitting in this room today.  I think that is

 

             18               something that we should think about.

 

             19                       We are here about a bond issue.  I

 

 

             20               have something to say on the bond itself, the

 

             21               whole process.  It was stated by Mr. Gatti

 

             22               earlier this evening, that we have approxi-

 

             23               mately $47 million in municipal debt and

 

 

             24               approximately $17 million of that are due back

 

             25               to our municipality from open space funds.  I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          60

 

              1               hope that someone could address how long we

 

              2               have been waiting for those funds; what the

 

              3               likelihood of the success of the application

 

 

              4               to secure those funds might be, and how the

 

              5               bonds are structured to ensure that we don't

 

              6               pay a penalty in an attempt to redeem or pay

 

              7               off these debts prior to their full maturity.

 

 

              8               The plan, I understand from the $22 million

 

              9               that you wish to borrow, would permit us to

 

             10               recuperate those dollars with the grant

 

             11               programs, but no one really addressed how,

 

 

             12               actually, we would pay the bonds, what impact

 

             13               that has on the bond rate that we would

 

             14               receive, one; and initially, we would obtain

 

             15               the bonds.  I saw a little difference between

 

 

             16               three-year notes and a longer-term bond.

 

             17                       The financial impact of that has not

 

             18               been made clear from some of the material that

 

             19               I have read on the municipal website.

 

 

             20                       The second comment I wanted to make is

 

             21               when you look at the tax revenue from the

 

             22               airport, at present we presently receive about

 

             23               $59,000 in taxes from the airport as a whole.

 

 

             24               Of that, $56,000 comes from only 56 acres.

 

             25               Yet when you look at the map that was provided

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          61

 

              1               by the municipality in the recent mailing, it

 

              2               showed what I would describe as a cross -- it

 

              3               showed runways, the developed portion of the

 

 

              4               property and all of the buffer zones that the

 

              5               FAA requires around the runways, in order for

 

              6               them to maintain and operate an airport up to

 

              7               FAA standards.  The sum of the area of the

 

 

              8               land outlined on that map far exceeds 56

 

              9               acres.  Why have we not been taxing all of the

 

             10               land used as principally commercial property

 

             11               as such, simply because the Solbergs have

 

 

             12               grown hay or corn on some of the property that

 

             13               they have to have in order to operate the

 

             14               airport.  That tax is agricultural.

 

             15                       MR. AURIEMMA:  I ask you to wrap it

 

 

             16               up.

 

             17                       MR. JONES:  Lastly, talking about

 

             18               preservation of this property as open space, I

 

             19               would hope that the water quality issues would

 

 

             20               be addressed more broadly rather than simply

 

             21               looking at the airport.  Chambers Brook is not

 

             22               one of the waterways in this community that is

 

             23               monitored at all.  It is not part of the South

 

 

             24               Branch Watershed Association, nor the Rockaway

 

             25               Creek Water Association.  It is a natural

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          62

 

              1               habitat at present.  I hope that the water

 

              2               quality on the airport will extend to water

 

              3               quality concerns for the other contributories

 

 

              4               in Chambers Brook.  Thank you very much.

 

              5                       MRS. CROWTHER:  Marlene Crowther, 155

 

              6               Stanton Road.

 

              7                       I want to thank you all again for your

 

 

              8               efforts, and please keep it up.  I think the

 

              9               township, the people, are definitely behind

 

             10               you.  That was shown at the last Township

 

             11               election, so please keep it up.  Thank you.

 

 

             12                       MR. MITCHELL:  My name is James

 

             13               Mitchell, and I live on Main Street in

 

             14               Whitehouse.

 

             15                       As the gentleman over here stated, he

 

 

             16               said just said if you are making the decisions

 

             17               -- obviously, at the last election, you were

 

             18               elected by the people.  It is no secret, the

 

             19               majority of the people don't want it expanded,

 

 

             20               and I think, you know, everybody has the right

 

             21               to a business, but when it bothers everybody

 

             22               else's property, the thing that hasn't been

 

             23               brought up here, your values will go down.

 

 

             24                       I looked at the traffic, the traffic

 

             25               you have on Main Street now, and what do you

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          63

 

              1               think it would be if they had more warehousing

 

              2               and more of these things where these companies

 

              3               will have their CEOs flying in here left and

 

 

              4               right.  Do you think you will have less

 

              5               traffic?  What do you think your taxes will go

 

              6               up then to fix the roads and get more police

 

              7               and retirement for the police.  Nobody wants

 

 

              8               to hear that.

 

              9                       Every action has a reaction.

 

             10               Everybody forgets the reaction when that gets

 

             11               expanded.  What it does to the rest of us -- I

 

 

             12               also state one thing, and I have been here

 

             13               over and over and Mr. Solberg has been invited

 

             14               to come up here, and he is out there now, but

 

             15               he can't come in here.  So that shows the

 

 

             16               cowardice of the man when he can't come in and

 

             17               face these people.  Thank you.

 

             18                       MR. HANNIGAN:  My name is Bob

 

             19               Hannigan, and I live at 5 John Reading Road.

 

 

             20                       I don't want to begin this way, but I

 

             21               would like to say that Mr. Solberg, I have

 

             22               known Mr. Solberg, and he is no coward.  He

 

             23               has been at plenty of these meetings.

 

 

             24                       A VOICE:  Then where is he?

 

             25                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Please don't call out.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          64

 

              1                       MR. HANNIGAN:  He has made many

 

              2               proposals, and he has tried to negotiate in

 

              3               good faith.

 

 

              4                       This is a meeting of a different

 

              5               feather, it is our meeting, it is not his

 

              6               meeting. 

 

              7                       I moved to this township eight and a

 

 

              8               half years ago, and I saw signs on the side of

 

              9               the road "No airport expansion."  I have

 

             10               listened to all of the debates.  I have gone

 

             11               to many meetings.  When two parties enter

 

 

             12               into a negotiation, there is give and take on

 

             13               both sides.  I see give on the Solbergs side,

 

             14               I see no give on this side.

 

             15                       There will never be a successful

 

 

             16               negotiation until the two parties agree to

 

             17               negotiate fairly.  This issue has been used

 

             18               over and over again for campaigning.  I think

 

             19               these folks have been on a committee, and they

 

 

             20               passed the mayorship from one person to the

 

             21               next person to the next person, and I don't

 

             22               know who will have it next, but it is

 

             23               completely political.  This thing should have

 

 

             24               been settled a long time ago.  I don't know

 

             25               how much in legal fees that they have spent

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          65

 

              1               over the years now, but I think that in three

 

              2               months that you folks should have this thing

 

              3               negotiated fairly with the Solbergs with no

 

 

              4               taxpayer money coming out of it.  If you can't

 

              5               get it down in three months, please resign.

 

              6                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  If you can do that,

 

              7               then we want you.

 

 

              8                       MR. STECKLOW:  My name is James

 

              9               Stecklow, 396 Ferncrest Court.

 

             10                       I would like to talk to Mr. Gatti

 

             11               after the meeting, because I have a

 

 

             12               hypothetical question to ask you.  Rather than

 

             13               try to discuss it here tonight, I would like

 

             14               to ask it from both sides.

 

             15                       MR. GATTI:  Okay.

 

 

             16                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  We are going to go row

 

             17               by row.  Next.  If you are in the front row,

 

             18               then you should have been up.

 

             19                       Is there anybody else?

 

 

             20                       MR. PETERS:  My name is Ted Peters,

 

             21               and I want to thank you for the opportunity to

 

             22               allow me to speak tonight.

 

             23                       I am a long-time resident of

 

 

             24               Readington Township, and I am also a long-time

 

             25               participant on the issue at hand tonight.  I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          66

 

              1               was involved in these issues since 1983, with

 

              2               the airport.  As you probably know, that act

 

              3               was the genesis of it.  During the past two

 

 

              4               decades since that time, Township monies have

 

              5               been spent on the effort of keeping Readington

 

              6               rural.

 

              7                       At the present juncture, the goals of

 

 

              8               the Township and those of the airport are

 

              9               contraindicated.  This meant getting involved,

 

             10               which I did, and eventually leading up to the

 

             11               formation of BRAC, which involves Branchburg

 

 

             12               and Readington Townships.  It is an organiza-

 

             13               tion of like-minded individuals.  Over the

 

             14               years, BRAC supported growth, in view of the

 

             15               action being taken by the Township to maintain

 

 

             16               the status of the Solberg Airport.  This was a

 

             17               common issue then and it still is now.  Our

 

             18               support is to at least offer 4,000 area

 

             19               persons whose opinion was in concert with that

 

 

             20               of the Township Committee to achieve that

 

             21               result.  Twice in the last few years, our

 

             22               supporters were disappointed.  There was a

 

             23               decision by the Committee that all avenues had

 

 

             24               to be covered to reach an amicable agreement

 

             25               as to the status of our airport, which had not

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          67

 

              1               been adequately addressed.  As far as I am

 

              2               able to ascertain, negotiations completed to

 

              3               this point have outlined the Township's

 

 

              4               position in detail.  All of the "I"s have been

 

              5               dotted and all of the "T"s have been crossed

 

              6               to allow the Township to proceed seriously

 

              7               with any further discussions.

 

 

              8                       MR. AURIEMMA:  You are almost out of

 

              9               time.

 

             10                       MR. PETERS:  I have a couple more

 

             11               issues.  Barring a miraculous breakthrough in

 

 

             12               the Township's decision, I agree with the

 

             13               majority of the BRAC supporters that it is

 

             14               time to take action and decide this

 

             15               longstanding problem. I am sure it will be a

 

 

             16               major step in the goal to keep Readington

 

             17               rural and the status it maintains.

 

             18                       In addition, continuing on, further

 

             19               success in preserving open space will be an

 

 

             20               assurance that we will keep Readington rural,

 

             21               and that this can be done.

 

             22                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  We will go to the next

 

             23               row.  Please queue up if there is anybody in

 

 

             24               this row.  Anybody in the third row?  Anybody

 

             25               in the fourth row?

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          68

 

              1                       MR. NONNI:  My name is Robert Nonni,

 

              2               and I live at 3 Proprietary Lane in

 

              3               Whitehouse.

 

 

              4                       I have been a resident of Readington

 

              5               Township for 18 years.  I am opposed to the

 

              6               approval of a bond ordinance to fund the

 

              7               purchase of Solberg Airport.  I do not believe

 

 

              8               the Township Committee is exercising the will

 

              9               of the majority in improving the service.  I

 

             10               have contacted the office of Funding at the

 

             11               FAA this week, and the Director of Aeronautics

 

 

             12               of the Department of Transportation and

 

             13               neither authority was able to report any

 

             14               applications, either pending or approved, for

 

             15               grants or funding by the owners of Solberg

 

 

             16               Airport.

 

             17                       The New Jersey Department of

 

             18               Transportation did report that a project of

 

             19               the recoating of the runway was being cost

 

 

             20               evaluated, but it has not been approved for

 

             21               funding.  Should funding for the airport

 

             22               improvements be granted in the future,

 

             23               Readington Township's zoning review and site

 

 

             24               plan requirements would be required before

 

             25               such work could commence.  Our local

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          69

 

              1               government will postpone and deny any such

 

              2               transaction without the cost of appraisals,

 

              3               legal fees and without committing the Township

 

 

              4               to further debt.  Readington Township is not,

 

              5               in my view, in clear and present danger of

 

              6               expansion being funded by the Federal

 

              7               Government.

 

 

              8                       I am not in favor of this show of

 

              9               force by our Township Committee.  With regard

 

             10               to Township negotiations for the airport, both

 

             11               sides need to be convinced of the honesty.

 

 

             12               The people no longer believe there is

 

             13               unanimity in not wanting the expansion.  Even

 

             14               Solberg states, "We want to keep Solberg

 

             15               Airport a small community airport, and we are

 

 

             16               happy with the airport the way it is."  Why

 

             17               then has this issue not been resolved?  Both

 

             18               sides of these negotiations seem to be acting

 

             19               out of pride and stubbornness.

 

 

             20                       I believe the parties need a mediator

 

             21               so they can better hear each other and come to

 

             22               an understanding and rather than a profes-

 

             23               sional mediator who has loyalty to whoever

 

 

             24               pays the bill, I am suggesting that a group of

 

             25               residents serve as mediators in further

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          70

 

              1               negotiations.  These negotiations would be

 

              2               reported back to the residents.  This is our

 

              3               town, and we now need to be more involved in

 

 

              4               this process.  A group that we can trust must

 

              5               come down squarely in the middle of this issue

 

              6               with one agenda, love of Readington Township.

 

              7               Thank you very much.

 

 

              8                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Next row?

 

              9                       MR. KEEFE:  Ladies and gentlemen, my

 

             10               name is Bill Keefe, K-E-E-F-E, I live in

 

             11               Readington Township.

 

 

             12                       By virtue of background, I have a 20-

 

             13               year career in banking with extensive

 

             14               experience in municipal finance.  Just taking

 

             15               the numbers that Mr. Gatti had spoken to

 

 

             16               previously, I hardly think you people know how

 

             17               to spend money, with a $22 million debt level.

 

             18               I deal with municipalities around the State

 

             19               and the debt level is hardly suffocating.  In

 

 

             20               fact, I wish my debt level on my house was

 

             21               only four percent of its value, so

 

             22               congratulations on that front.

 

             23                       As far as moving forward at this point

 

 

             24               in time, I understand that the Township brings

 

             25               in about $6 million in annual tax revenue.  If

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          71

 

              1               that does nothing but go with inflation, it

 

              2               will serve as (inaudible) on debt if we ever

 

              3               reach that, and I highly doubt that.  So

 

 

              4               congratulations. 

 

              5                       My parting comments are that I hope

 

              6               that the Township Committee can work

 

              7               productively with the Solbergs to an ending

 

 

              8               that serves Readington Township in the best

 

              9               way possible.  Thank you very much.

 

             10                       MR. FARSIOU:  My name is Abraham

 

             11               Farsiou, I live on Weavers Lane in Whitehouse

 

 

             12               Station.

 

             13                       You have been elected and re-elected

 

             14               by the people of Readington Township.  I think

 

             15               you are doing a fantastic job for our

 

 

             16               township.  We don't want this airport

 

             17               expanding to a jetport.  But according to the

 

             18               pamphlet, I don't know why you are here

 

             19               tonight, because Solberg says that Solberg is

 

 

             20               not planning any changes.  Thank you very

 

             21               much.

 

             22                       MR. DUDZINSKI:  Good evening, Ed

 

             23               Dudzinski, 5 Brier Road, Whitehouse Station.

 

 

             24                       I will repeat what I suggested at the

 

             25               last Township Committee meeting on the 17th.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          72

 

              1               I very much would like to hear what Thor

 

              2               Solberg has to say.  I think the public is

 

              3               desperate to hear what he has to say.

 

 

              4                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  So would we.

 

              5                       MR. DUDZINSKI:  I know Suzie Nagle and

 

              6               her husband Ed asked that this meeting be

 

              7               postponed, because they had a vacation planned

 

 

              8               that they are on.  I would again like to

 

              9               suggest that the Township Committee go the

 

             10               extra mile and try to schedule another

 

             11               meeting, not two weeks in advance notice, but

 

 

             12               two months in advance notice to have the

 

             13               Solbergs invited to come and present their

 

             14               case directly to the people.  The people are

 

             15               desperate to hear what they have to say,

 

 

             16               directly.  They are very confused.  We are at

 

             17               the he said/she said point, and there are

 

             18               letters in the paper that are not serving any

 

             19               good.  We need to hear directly from them so

 

 

             20               we can understand both sides of the issue.

 

             21                       The other thing, I agree whole-

 

             22               heartedly with what Mayor Shamey said, which

 

             23               is Readington for Readington.  I think when

 

 

             24               any action is imposed, it should be put to a

 

             25               vote of the people, so that the people can

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          73

 

              1               decide.  That is all I have to say.

 

              2                       MR. DOMCI:  My name is John Domci,    

 

              3               D-O-M-C-I.  I have been in this township for

 

 

              4               25 years. I have been basically silent.  I had

 

              5               to work my butt off to support my family and

 

              6               take care of the taxes that have gone up from

 

              7               $1,800 to over 10,000.  Our roads are a

 

 

              8               shamble.  There are no sewers, there is no

 

              9               municipal help from our municipality.  You

 

             10               take the money and it goes directly into the

 

             11               municipal coffers.  None of it is coming back

 

 

             12               to us in the signs of sewage, and if you had

 

             13               been in this township 25 years and you have a

 

             14               house for 25 years, be prepared.  Your septic

 

             15               is ready to go.  You will be looking at

 

 

             16               $45,000.  If it takes you five years to make

 

             17               that money, it is $9,000 on top of your taxes,

 

             18               and you will be spending that for this bond

 

             19               issue.  This bond issue has got to be looked

 

 

             20               at, and it has got to be controlled and we

 

             21               need to take control of it.

 

             22                       They refer to the jetport and the

 

             23               jets, but what I understood, my neighbor came

 

 

             24               to me and said that there is going to be F47s

 

             25               to be flying into this airport.  I said there

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          74

 

              1               are jets flying into this area now that are

 

              2               commercial.  When they put the school on this

 

              3               property and on this runway, we were told --

 

 

              4               there was people up in arms about this school

 

              5               because of the runway.  They said no, the

 

              6               airport is safe, it is a commercial addition

 

              7               to this community, and it is needed.  Here is

 

 

              8               the school and we are more worried about our

 

              9               property values than the kids that are in here

 

             10               every day.  That is all I have to say.

 

             11                       MR. BLAGBROUGH:  My name is Al

 

 

             12               Blagbrough, and I live at 79 Readington Road.

 

             13                       I would just like to say that you guys

 

             14               have a house divided, and everybody knows it.

 

             15               Your analogy about the bond, using a home

 

 

             16               equity loan of $22 million cap and you don't

 

             17               necessarily have to spend all of that, that is

 

             18               really not a good analogy, because you kind of

 

             19               own your home when you go get an equity loan,

 

 

             20               you don't quite own Solberg Airport yet.  A

 

             21               better analogy would be that you were pre-

 

             22               approved for a mortgage of $22 million.  Now

 

             23               whether or not you spend that money and buy

 

 

             24               that house, that is up for grabs, but I have a

 

             25               hard time seeing why you need money to get the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          75

 

              1               preapproved mortgage when the seller doesn't

 

              2               want to sell.  That is my only comment.  I see

 

              3               it, I have seen as much of it as I can.  I am

 

 

              4               trying to read through the he said/she said

 

              5               letters, and it is a precursor to eminent

 

              6               domain.  That is where I draw the line.

 

              7                       I don't care how many issues are on

 

 

              8               both sides of the equation, because I think

 

              9               there is merit to both sides of the house.

 

             10               But eminent domain is wrong, and you guys

 

             11               should go on record as saying you will never

 

 

             12               do that.  That is the end of my comment.

 

             13                       (Applause.)

 

             14                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Anybody else in this

 

             15               gentleman's row?  Okay.  Would you please come

 

 

             16               up.

 

             17                       MS. MOSULINO:  My name is Diane

 

             18               Mosulino. 

 

             19                       Actually mine is a three-part

 

 

             20               question.  I would like to know what happens

 

             21               if this purchase doesn't come to pass and what

 

             22               will happen with the money, the bond, and how

 

             23               much of the $22 million will be used for non-

 

 

             24               purchase issues such as evaluations and

 

             25               assessments.  If there is no purchase of the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          76

 

              1               airport with this money then, inevitably, will

 

              2               this money be used for eminent domain and

 

              3               condemnation?  My last question is why wasn't

 

 

              4               this bond issue put on a vote for referendum?

 

              5               Thank you.

 

              6                       MR. HELLINGS:  My name is Steve

 

              7               Hellings, Old Highway 28.  I have a couple of

 

 

              8               things. 

 

              9                       You talked about cost per -- I never

 

             10               heard any cost, but the loss of ratables on

 

             11               open space, what the long-term loss of

 

 

             12               ratables would be.  Now, the real important

 

             13               thing is in two years, ten years, or 30 years,

 

             14               if there is technology like a computer chip,

 

             15               let's say, the government has an airplane that

 

 

             16               will fly like a helicopter and becomes a jet,

 

             17               will you still throw it out of there, even

 

             18               though you are limited to 3,700 feet?  So you

 

             19               will still get jets.  The issue I have, there

 

 

             20               are issues on my part of the town that no one

 

             21               will help me, people, we have pedophile motels

 

             22               sitting on Route 22.  What about our property

 

             23               values?  I want to know why I am supposed to

 

 

             24               pay for their lack of homes?  How about a

 

             25               surcharge for the people that have to fight

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          77

 

              1               most financial rewards?  All of the ones that

 

              2               voted for certain people that live over by the

 

              3               airport that are worried about their property

 

 

              4               values, not the betterment of Readington

 

              5               Township, only them.  That is the me, myself

 

              6               and I type of individual that is in the

 

              7               corporate world.  That is the problem with

 

 

              8               this country today.  Thank you.

 

              9                       MR. SCLAFALI:  Mike Sclafali, 18

 

             10               Beaver Lane.

 

             11                       I have lived here for 26 years, and I

 

 

             12               don't know if I'm having a delusion, but about

 

             13               four years ago I was in a meeting with a

 

             14               couple of hundred residents in the County

 

             15               College where the DOT was trying to educate me

 

 

             16               and hundreds of others about the expansion

 

             17               plan that Solberg put in.  So I don't agree

 

             18               that he is not planning on expanding.  I have

 

             19               a problem with the literature he puts out

 

 

             20               saying he doesn't want any changes.  That has

 

             21               no reliability to me.

 

             22                       The second thing is when he does

 

             23               expand, it will double and triple the numbers

 

 

             24               and the size of the planes.  That is why you

 

             25               have this safety zone that everyone agrees

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          78

 

              1               will have to be put in place.  Another name

 

              2               for that is metropolitan impact danger zone.

 

              3               I am not worried about me, personally, I am

 

 

              4               worried about the 400 kids in this school that

 

              5               are going to be right on the fringe of a

 

              6               danger zone, and they are going to be, years

 

              7               from now, worrying about the crash and a

 

 

              8               couple of kids that have died, and all these

 

              9               supporters of expansion of the airport will

 

             10               not be in this room when we are holding the

 

             11               funeral.  It is going to happen, because they

 

 

             12               are tripling the risk.

 

             13                       I support you, get this thing moving.

 

             14                       (Applause.)

 

             15                       MR. COLE:  Bob Cole, 120 Readington

 

 

             16               Road.

 

             17                       Mayor Shamey, could it be that some

 

             18               day every citizen in Readington is able to

 

             19               look back on this struggle, this time in our

 

 

             20               community, this wrestling with what is right

 

             21               and what is wrong and recognize above any yet

 

             22               to be determined resolution your uncommon

 

             23               leadership?  You and I were both there in

 

 

             24               Readington Middle School gym, in September of

 

             25               2001, with people on both sides of the issue.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          79

 

              1               They sat nervously, if not agitated, while the

 

              2               other side spewed rhetoric.  And five years

 

              3               later with the Committee intact, here we are

 

 

              4               still not better, maybe worse.

 

              5                       There are many who would shrink from

 

              6               such responsibility, and clearly other

 

              7               officials do not have the talent to guide such

 

 

              8               divergent stakeholders to a fair and equitable

 

              9               resolution.  Yet I am here to express my

 

             10               confidence in you, personally.

 

             11                       I appeal to you, knowing full well

 

 

             12               there are others on your Committee who have

 

             13               passed the point of no return a long time ago.

 

             14               And while these people will continue to

 

             15               polarize the issue, I believe you have the

 

 

             16               ability to center it.

 

             17                       I am here tonight to urge you to avoid

 

             18               passing this ordinance and continue seeking

 

             19               common ground on this issue with the Solberg

 

 

             20               family.  Funding at this point in time is

 

             21               clearly not the issue.  Theoretically

 

             22               speaking, it seems the Committee could set

 

             23               aside all the money in the world, but how does

 

 

             24               it make it possible to buy property that is

 

             25               simply not for sale.  Your actions here

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          80

 

              1               tonight will not inspire negotiations, it will

 

              2               further incite bad feelings and destroy trust.

 

              3               Trust has yet to be established.  It takes a

 

 

              4               lot to get past abusive patterns of behavior

 

              5               on both sides.

 

              6                       I would be terribly displeased to find

 

              7               out three months from now that this action

 

 

              8               that you take potentially tonight was really

 

              9               the condemnation train leaving the station.

 

             10               Obviously, tempers have flared recently, but

 

             11               it is time to get back to the table.  Stop

 

 

             12               hiring eminent domain experts. 

 

             13                       I attended the meeting last month and

 

             14               found it informative.  I was aware this past

 

             15               August when you set up the time for the

 

 

             16               meetings.  As the great, great grandson of the

 

             17               village doctor, Dr. Johnson, and the grandson

 

             18               of two hard working farmers, I ask you as the

 

             19               Committee to be financially responsible.  My

 

 

             20               family began in the spirit of this town and

 

             21               uses lessons learned to improve the future.

 

             22               The common text of our small Readington

 

             23               village is important to me.  There is no place

 

 

             24               for noisy jets and yet today I remain more

 

             25               threatened by the stream of vehicles on our

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          81

 

              1               roads going through the village than by the

 

              2               runway on its outskirts.  I am worried about

 

              3               my tax bill, and your being trumped by some

 

 

              4               authority in the future.

 

              5                       To change the personnel on your

 

              6               negotiating team might be appropriate, and get

 

              7               professionals, establish a new time line and

 

 

              8               get back to the table.  I urge Thor, Lorraine

 

              9               and Suzie to come back to the table as well.

 

             10                       MR. AURIEMMA:  You have to wrap it up.

 

             11                       MR. COLE:  Thank you for your leader-

 

 

             12               ship.  To be remembered you need tolerance,

 

             13               honesty, commitment and a willingness to carve

 

             14               your own path, despite the opinions of your

 

             15               colleagues.  May you lead onward.

 

 

             16                       MR. BOLGER:  Good evening.  My name is

 

             17               Bolger, B-O-L-G-E-R.

 

             18                       I have been in the Township for 30

 

             19               years.  I know all you people personally, and

 

 

             20               you have the highest integrity of people I

 

             21               know.  You have done everything you can to

 

             22               protect this township.  Let's talk about the

 

             23               people like me who are not a member of any

 

 

             24               organized group, just a poor homeowner who is

 

             25               up here scared to death that we are going to

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          82

 

              1               have a jetport.  I am a native of New Jersey,

 

              2               I've seen the results of poor planning.  I

 

              3               have seen whole towns go down the tubes.  Just

 

 

              4               go up to Teterboro, go up to Morristown.

 

              5                       All these people are talking about the

 

              6               loss of 55 or $60 a month in taxes.  They have

 

              7               no idea of the catastrophic effect a jetport

 

 

              8               will have on this township.  You save six to

 

              9               $7,000, so what, that will be polluted by

 

             10               jets.

 

             11                       Are we serous?  I think people ought

 

 

             12               to educate themselves.  When we had the 1983

 

             13               Airport Safety Act, which has not happened at

 

             14               this point -- I think Mayor Shamey may have

 

             15               brought this up -- but in that Act it said

 

 

             16               that all non-conforming properties, but it is

 

             17               now conforming when it comes to this airport.

 

             18               That means that it is now commercial property.

 

             19                       They can do anything they want.  When

 

 

             20               the Solbergs applied for the leader status in

 

             21               the application, they said on the question of

 

             22               is there any local opposition, they said not

 

             23               much, when we were up there screaming and

 

 

             24               yelling.  You received petitions with 3,800

 

             25               signatures from my good friend Ted about the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          83

 

              1               people who don't want this.  I think you

 

              2               should move forward.  I think you should

 

              3               approve it and acquire it once and for all.

 

 

              4               We have been at this negotiation for about

 

              5               three or four and a half years now, and it is

 

              6               not going anywhere.  It won't go anywhere.  I

 

              7               told you that privately, and I will tell you

 

 

              8               publicly, and I said it at the time.

 

              9                       This is just a big joke, okay, and

 

             10               maybe it is done to drive the price up.  I

 

             11               don't know, but do we really want to destroy

 

 

             12               this township?  That is what is at stake.

 

             13               This township will be destroyed if that

 

             14               becomes a jetport with the list of stuff that

 

             15               they have on that presentation that you made,

 

 

             16               the 5,000 foot runway.  Nobody has talked

 

             17               about the weight-carrying capacity.  Nobody

 

             18               has talked about the weight capacity of that

 

             19               runway, which will be 60,000 pounds.  What

 

 

             20               kind of a plane can you land on a 60,000 pound

 

             21               weight capacity, 5,000 feet long?  You better

 

             22               do it now, folks.  If you want to support the

 

             23               township then support these good folks.

 

 

             24                       (Applause.)

 

             25                       MR. SMITH:  My name is William Smith,

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          84

 

              1               and I live on County Line Road.

 

              2                       To understand the impact of the

 

              3               Solberg proposal, to me the answer lies

 

 

              4               largely in the numbers.  Expansion of the

 

              5               airport would have a massive impact on

 

              6               property values, damage to quality of life.

 

              7               The Committee is proposing a $22 million bond

 

 

              8               to purchase this property.  This number is a

 

              9               tiny fraction, by any measure, to maintain our

 

             10               quality of life.  This is our only solution,

 

             11               it seems.

 

 

             12                       One thing is when the bond is paid

 

             13               off, the Township owns a valuable resource

 

             14               owned by the residents.  Second, there is a

 

             15               good possibility these costs could be defrayed

 

 

             16               from other sources of funding, open space and

 

             17               preservation, and others may exist that the

 

             18               expansion of the airport will cost the

 

             19               Township in perpetuity.  Residents, I urge you

 

 

             20               not to be swayed by the out-of-date political

 

             21               action committee.  They use campaign finance

 

             22               laws to hide both the true agenda and the

 

             23               names of the parties against it.

 

 

             24                       Certainly, some people think this is

 

             25               the way to buy a township.  I commend the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          85

 

              1               Committee for its dedication, perseverance,

 

              2               civility and the integrity they have displayed

 

              3               in the handling of this matter.  It has not

 

 

              4               been easy.  They have my gratitude, respect

 

              5               and my thanks.

 

              6                       In conclusion, let me reiterate that I

 

              7               fully support the Committee on the bond

 

 

              8               proposal, and I urge other township residents

 

              9               to do the same.  Thank you.

 

             10                       (Applause.)

 

             11                       MS. JENKIN:  My name is Karen Jenkin.

 

 

             12                       I have an example of a letter that was

 

             13               written to Mayor Shamey and Mr. Solberg in

 

             14               regards to the airport, and I thought the

 

             15               audience would be interested in hearing it.

 

 

             16               This person could not attend.  It was written

 

             17               by Peter A. Sommers, okay.  I did not write

 

             18               this, this was his, so I am quoting word for

 

             19               word what is in this letter.

 

 

             20                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Is he a resident?

 

             21                       MS. JENKIN:  Yes, he is a resident of

 

             22               Readington Township.  I can't remember the

 

             23               name of the road, off of Barley Sheaf.  It

 

 

             24               says, "Dear Sir, I have been a taxpaying

 

             25               resident of Readington Township since 1977.  I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          86

 

              1               am adamantly opposed to the Township's

 

              2               involvement in attempting to acquire by

 

              3               condemnation, or otherwise, the property known

 

 

              4               as Solberg Airport.  This private property has

 

              5               been in existence as an airport longer than I

 

              6               and probably you have been a resident.

 

              7                       "If the Solbergs wish to expand, with

 

 

              8               this effort they most certainly would need

 

              9               great national, State and local approvals.

 

             10               Beyond that, the airport property is their

 

             11               property, and as long as they abide by all

 

 

             12               applicable land use laws, they should be

 

             13               permitted to do with it what is allowed.

 

             14                       "A month or so ago I wrote my tax

 

             15               check and noticed my 1998 final tax bill

 

 

             16               statement.  In 1998, my final tax bill was

 

             17               $6,849.  For 2005, my final tax bill was

 

             18               $10,788.  My taxes have increased 57 percent

 

             19               in seven years, or an average tax increase of

 

 

             20               8.2 percent per year, almost a thousand

 

             21               dollars.  This, obviously, far exceeds the

 

             22               cost of living during the same time period.  I

 

             23               did not move, I still live in the same house.

 

 

             24               I don't recall any increase in municipal

 

             25               services.  In my opinion, the Readington

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          87

 

              1               Township officials should be concentrating on

 

              2               ways to improve services and limit tax

 

              3               increases, not trying to buy development

 

 

              4               rights to properties of private citizens or

 

              5               businesses."  It is signed Peter A. Sommers.

 

              6                       Now, the reason I read this --

 

              7                       (Applause.)

 

 

              8                       MS. JENKIN:  A lot of these letters

 

              9               have been sent to Mr. Shamey, both that way

 

             10               and the other way with people who want the

 

             11               Township to acquire the Solberg property.  Are

 

 

             12               these letters available in the township

 

             13               building so we can read them?

 

             14                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Letters from residents

 

             15               to the Mayor?

 

 

             16                       MS. JENKIN:  To you or anybody.  Is

 

             17               that public documents?

 

             18                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I believe so.

 

             19                       MR. GATTI:  They are supposed to be

 

 

             20               available when you go in.

 

             21                       MR. AURIEMMA:  You're not supposed to

 

             22               answer questions.

 

             23                       MS. JENKIN:  If they are available,

 

 

             24               can it put up where they can be read?

 

             25                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I will address that

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          88

 

              1               after the public comment.

 

              2                       MS. JENKIN:  Okay.  My last comment

 

              3               here tonight is that I think this bond thing

 

 

              4               should be put up for a vote.  That should not

 

              5               be put in the hands of five people sitting in

 

              6               front of us.  Thank you.

 

              7                       MR. ZWERLING:  Eric Zwerling, I live

 

 

              8               here in Readington.

 

              9                       Allowing the Solberg family and the

 

             10               residents of Readington to enjoy our present

 

             11               lifestyles, considering everything, there

 

 

             12               should be no illusions for anyone anymore.  If

 

             13               the Solbergs are left up to their own designs,

 

             14               Solberg Airport will eventually become a

 

             15               jetport industrial park, and that is

 

 

             16               absolutely certain.

 

             17                       Turning this property into a jetport

 

             18               industrial park will have impact on thousands

 

             19               of residents spread over several square miles.

 

 

             20               No other property owner in Readington holds so

 

             21               much power over so many people to seriously

 

             22               impair their quality of life.

 

             23                       And make no mistake, a massive

 

 

             24               unregulated noise source, such as a jetport,

 

             25               would do exactly that.  As Director of the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          89

 

              1               Rutgers University Noise Technical Assistance

 

              2               Center, I have visited neighborhoods and

 

              3               communities across the United States that have

 

 

              4               been devastated by just such a noise source.

 

              5               I have looked into crying eyes and listened to

 

              6               voices trembling with anger and desperation.

 

              7               People who, it is fair to say, have had their

 

 

              8               lives and properties destroyed to some

 

              9               measure. 

 

             10                       We have repeatedly been asked by Thor

 

             11               Solberg to trust his intentions, that he would

 

 

             12               never do anything to harm his Readington,

 

             13               where he was born and lives.  I would love to

 

             14               believe that, like a kindly grandfather, he is

 

             15               only interested in what is best for us, and

 

 

             16               has the purest of intentions.  But

 

             17               unfortunately, and it pains me to say this

 

             18               about anybody, he has repeatedly revealed

 

             19               himself to be completely untrustworthy, and

 

 

             20               is, in fact, a master of deception and

 

             21               distortion.

 

             22                       In this matter, he has told the truth

 

             23               only two times, during the negotiations.  He

 

 

             24               plans to expand the airport into a jetport,

 

             25               and he will spend whatever it takes to buy

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          90

 

              1               seats on the Township Committee.  Characteris-

 

              2               tically, however, he denies these statements

 

              3               to the press.  His covert and overt efforts to

 

 

              4               buy a more compliant Township Committee not

 

              5               only don't instill trust, they instill fear.

 

              6               He freely admits that his negotiations with

 

              7               the NJ DOT were nothing more than a two-year

 

 

              8               delay tactic.  This certainly does not instill

 

              9               trust.  His purposefully deceptive and biased

 

             10               push polls ringing Readington phones, once

 

             11               again, do anything but instill trust.  It

 

 

             12               certainly does not instill trust that he chose

 

             13               Lawrence Berger for his partner/negotiator,

 

             14               considering that Berger has already been

 

             15               sharply censured and rebuked for his bad faith

 

 

             16               dealings by at least three different courts so

 

             17               far, and is not content to contain his bad

 

             18               faith dealings to the courtroom.  Mr. Berger

 

             19               has threatened several Readington Township

 

 

             20               Committee members.  This last fact should

 

             21               shock, sicken and enrage Readington residents.

 

             22               And finally, the fact that Thor says I would

 

             23               never harm Readington, that is a farce.  Thor

 

 

             24               Solberg is, in fact, a Florida resident that

 

             25               hasn't voted in New Jersey for a decade is

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          91

 

              1               final confirmation that he has not been

 

              2               telling the truth.  At this point, the only

 

              3               thing I trust about Thor Solberg is that his

 

 

              4               only interest is the self-interest of

 

              5               maximizing his profits from this property

 

              6               without any regard for the impacts it will

 

              7               have on our home town or its individuals.  I

 

 

              8               also trust that Thor Solberg will stop at

 

              9               virtually nothing in his quest to evolve his

 

             10               airport into a regional jetport.

 

             11                       In stark contrast, I trust the

 

 

             12               Township Committee to act on my behalf to

 

             13               protect me, my family and my property from a

 

             14               clear and present and credible danger while

 

             15               fairly offering the Solbergs appropriate, but

 

 

             16               not inflated, compensation.

 

             17                       Every single member of this Committee

 

             18               was elected on the platform that they would

 

             19               protect Readington's uniquely rural character.

 

 

             20               The impossible and remarkable write-in victory

 

             21               of Julia Allen was a crystal clear affirmation

 

             22               that this platform represents the majority

 

             23               view of Readington residents.

 

 

             24                       The Committee honors us with their

 

             25               commitment to the real interests of the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          92

 

              1               community, which we salute and deeply

 

              2               appreciate.  If the Solbergs truly cared about

 

              3               Readington, they would accept the Township's

 

 

              4               offer, which would make them multi-

 

              5               millionaires and leave them with the current

 

              6               airport to operate into perpetuity, while

 

              7               sparing all the rest of us the obnoxious

 

 

              8               droning of jets overhead, the smell of jet

 

              9               fuel fumes and increased traffic all over

 

             10               Readington.  However, since this would require

 

             11               reason and consideration, it will not happen,

 

 

             12               and the Committee must do whatever is

 

             13               necessary to protect us.  The Committee's

 

             14               choices here are difficult and courageous,

 

             15               traits that I deeply respect and which are

 

 

             16               rarely present in politicians.  They sit

 

             17               before us ready to resolve this issue for once

 

             18               and for all, now, rather than defer it to the

 

             19               future.  I thank the Committee members very

 

 

             20               much for your steely determination in

 

             21               resolving this matter.

 

             22                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Next?

 

             23                       MR. SHEPHARD:  My name is George

 

 

             24               Shephard, S-H-E-P-H-A-R-D, and I live at 95

 

             25               Cole Road.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          93

 

              1                       That is a tough act to follow.  I

 

              2               don't have any prepared speech, but I promise

 

              3               I will be less than two minutes.

 

 

              4                       I think the time to act is now.

 

              5               Sometimes in the process of negotiations, it

 

              6               is necessary to get to a point of strength.

 

              7               Perhaps this will be a point of strength that

 

 

              8               will force the Solbergs to finally tell the

 

              9               truth.  I was watching Mr. Solberg in the back

 

             10               of the room as the gentleman before me spoke.

 

             11               He sat there shaking his head with some kind

 

 

             12               of grin on his face.  This is the time to

 

             13               speak.  You are here, and I would like to

 

             14               reiterate Mr. Auriemma's call for you to come

 

             15               down here and tell us the truth.  If you don't

 

 

             16               plan on expanding your airport, you can tell

 

             17               us that tonight.  You can enter into an

 

             18               agreement with the Township Committee and this

 

             19               can be over.  Thank you very much.

 

 

             20                       MS. SOHL:  Susan Sohl, I live on

 

             21               Solberg Road.

 

             22                       At the November 11th election, the

 

             23               Readington Township voters indicated their

 

 

             24               support with the biggest turnout we had in

 

             25               years, probably the most important issue then

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          94

 

              1               and now is the airport.  So a vote for the

 

              2               Committee was a vote for acquisition of the

 

              3               airport.  Plain and simple.  When a homeowner

 

 

              4               wants to improve his or her property or pave

 

              5               the driveway, it enhances the value of the

 

              6               home and improves the aesthetic value of the

 

              7               neighborhood.  There is no negative effect on

 

 

              8               the surrounding homes.  When the airport wants

 

              9               to improve or pave its property, it affects

 

             10               the value of the surrounding homes and the

 

             11               quality of life of everyone in the Township.

 

 

             12               Proponents of the expansion do not seem to

 

             13               know the difference.

 

             14                       If we could believe what the Solbergs

 

             15               tell us, this issue would have been settled

 

 

             16               long, long ago.  I can't remember how many

 

             17               times Thor told us point blank no jets.  Then

 

             18               he said he couldn't control what kind of

 

             19               aircraft would land there, as long as runways

 

 

             20               would support it.  I know he can't deny usage

 

             21               of the airport, that the runways can take, so

 

             22               why does he try to appease us with lies?  We

 

             23               are way past being appeased, most everyone in

 

 

             24               the township knows the facts.  People have

 

             25               researched the statistics, they researched the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          95

 

              1               laws and the runways' capabilities.  They are

 

              2               not dealing with a naive public any longer.

 

              3               The Township Committee, thank you for your

 

 

              4               unwavering dedication.  Please continue to

 

              5               work as you are the people elected here, you

 

              6               know you have our support.  Thank you.

 

              7                       MS. SCHULZE:  Diane Schulze, 14

 

 

              8               Solberg Road.

 

              9                       It has now been over 20 years that

 

             10               this airport has held the Township's residents

 

             11               hostage with a threat of expansion.  This

 

 

             12               airport does have a history, it is one of

 

             13               deception.  This deception began in 1986, when

 

             14               they applied for reliever status and signed a

 

             15               legal document stating there were no

 

 

             16               objections to this proposal.  From there it

 

             17               went to expanding only for safety issues,

 

             18               which I can accept, but that was not the real

 

             19               scenario.  That sounded good for the public to

 

 

             20               hear.

 

             21                       Mr. Solberg stood at this podium and

 

             22               said no jets.  He stated again he had no

 

             23               control over what took off and what landed,

 

 

             24               but always stated how he would do nothing to

 

             25               change the atmosphere of the township.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          96

 

              1                       Then the runway was to be paved to a

 

              2               mere 3,000 plus feet for safety.  I could go

 

              3               on about conflicting documents, the

 

 

              4               statements, but there is not enough time.  The

 

              5               last issue that shows the arrogance of the

 

              6               owners was the article in the paper by Mr.

 

              7               Solberg where he promises not to allow noisy

 

 

              8               jets.  I suppose that means he will only allow

 

              9               quiet jets.  Definitely an oxymoron, and to

 

             10               change the runways to impact as few homes as

 

             11               possible.

 

 

             12                       What about safety:  What about safety

 

             13               for the schools, to the homes and to the

 

             14               properties and to the parks?  How is this

 

             15               possible when he stated he has no control over

 

 

             16               what lands and what takes off?

 

             17                       If the airport negatively impacts one

 

             18               person's property, it is one too many.  What

 

             19               gives a private business owner the right to

 

 

             20               impact anybody's home?  With the planes

 

             21               getting larger, there are larger safety zones,

 

             22               clearly, and drastically it devalues the

 

             23               property.  Will the airport owners reimburse

 

 

             24               all of the property owners affected by this

 

             25               expansion?  I doubt it. 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          97

 

              1                       There are individuals who say it is

 

              2               wrong for the Township to take the airport by

 

              3               eminent domain, but does that mean the airport

 

 

              4               has the right to take others' properties or to

 

              5               devalue their homes?

 

              6                       (Applause.)

 

              7                       MS. SCHULZE:  That is exactly what

 

 

              8               happened when the Allentown Airport expanded,

 

              9               and they will do it to us.  An expansion of

 

             10               this magnitude that the owners are proposing

 

             11               will subject the residents of this community

 

 

             12               to larger aircraft, noise and safety issues.

 

             13               We will have aircrafts fly over our schools

 

             14               and parks on expansion for more than safety.

 

             15               This expansion will change the rural area

 

 

             16               forever.

 

             17                       You are our elected officials, and we

 

             18               are putting our wellbeing in your hands.  We

 

             19               ask you to protect our children, our families,

 

 

             20               our homes, and make your decision.  I see no

 

             21               other way than eminent domain, if Solberg

 

             22               Corporation will not desist in its expansion

 

             23               plans and remain at status quo.  This has been

 

 

             24               going on far too long, it is time to stop it.

 

             25                       MR. ROTH:  My name is Andy Roth, and I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          98

 

              1               live at 615 Route 523 South.

 

              2                       Some of the comments I wanted to make

 

              3               are addressed to Mr. Solberg, but also they

 

 

              4               have bearing on the Committee.  I do have some

 

              5               questions for the Committee.  The concern was

 

              6               just raised, what right does the Government

 

              7               have?  Mr. Solberg has a concern about abuse

 

 

              8               of government power, and that is the issue I

 

              9               wanted to bring up at the public forum. 

 

             10                       I wanted to bring up some principles

 

             11               that are mentioned in the Bible regarding

 

 

             12               government power and regarding private

 

             13               property.  There are two sections of the Bible

 

             14               that I wanted to mention.  One is in Chapter

 

             15               22, Verse 8, (inaudible), and in that it says

 

 

             16               when you build a house or a roof on your

 

             17               house, you are building a parapet on the law,

 

             18               and they lived in a society at that time where

 

             19               somebody could fall off the roof and you could

 

 

             20               say nobody will tell me what to do with my

 

             21               property, because somebody could walk over and

 

             22               fall off. 

 

             23                       Now, is Mr. Solberg saying on the

 

 

             24               other hand, government is taking too much

 

             25               control?  It is Verse (inaudible), Chapter 21

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          99

 

              1               where King Ahab sought (inaudible) and said,

 

              2               "I will not sell my vineyard, God forbid I

 

              3               sell the inheritance of my father, even though

 

 

              4               they had the price to compensate."  In that

 

              5               particular case, the King actually had to cull

 

              6               through false deceit.  Is that what we are

 

              7               saying here?  Or is Mr. Solberg?  Is the

 

 

              8               Government saying we are not trying to come in

 

              9               and take over your property because of greed,

 

             10               but what you are doing is causing an impact on

 

             11               the people, and this is the only way it can be

 

 

             12               done?  I guess I am interested to know in

 

             13               eminent domain some of the legal parts of that

 

             14               can be addressed and what are the precedents

 

             15               for using it in this capacity in order to

 

 

             16               protect all of us in the community when one

 

             17               person is going beyond and saying, "I will do

 

             18               what I want with my property, even if it

 

             19               affects others."

 

 

             20                       You finally have to take it a step

 

             21               further.  What is the legal and ethical

 

             22               precedence for using it.

 

             23                       MR. DARGIS:  Tony Dargis, 126

 

 

             24               Hillcrest Road.

 

             25                       I would just like to maybe address the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         100

 

              1               issue of the tax increases that will come with

 

              2               this bond ordinance.  I would like to look at

 

              3               this more as an investment.  We invest an

 

 

              4               awful lot of money in schools such as this, to

 

              5               the order of 20 or $25 million a year, to

 

              6               build a school like this.  I think it is a

 

              7               very small investment to keep our environment,

 

 

              8               to keep our township rule and to keep a lot of

 

              9               additional traffic from coming into our

 

             10               township.

 

             11                       The numbers here are really very

 

 

             12               compelling.  I mean, if you look and say that

 

             13               this will cost us an additional $200 a year,

 

             14               well that is a lot of money, and I really

 

             15               wouldn't want to pay that.  But if I look, if

 

 

             16               my property value goes down by five or ten

 

             17               percent, I am talking about a 30 to $40,000

 

             18               loss.  So I see this $2,000 for ten years as a

 

             19               great investment.  I would urge the Committee

 

 

             20               to pass this bond ordinance and to save our

 

             21               township and keep it the way it is.  Thank you

 

             22               very much.

 

             23                       (Applause.)

 

 

             24                       MR. FORNER:  My name is Robert Forner,

 

             25               and I live in Whitehouse, and I've lived there

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         101

 

              1               for 30 years or since 1930, I'm sorry. 

 

              2                       I have seen farms where the farmers

 

              3               had to work their butts off to maintain it and

 

 

              4               raise their families, and other people come

 

              5               along and just take advantage of this farmland

 

              6               preservation and live like kings and queens.

 

              7               But as far as this airport goes, Mr. Shamey

 

 

              8               read a letter from the Chancellor of the

 

              9               Schools about putting this school in this

 

             10               position, but he probably didn't say how.  He

 

             11               said that you were going to take over the

 

 

             12               airport so it couldn't increase.  But you

 

             13               already owned property over in East

 

             14               Whitehouse, which was bought back in the '70s

 

             15               to put a school, but they couldn't put it

 

 

             16               there because of no sewerage.

 

             17                       So when the sewers went through, they

 

             18               never used that land for anything else.  What

 

             19               happens to the tax dollars that you do not

 

 

             20               collect from this school, from this airport

 

             21               when you take it over?  You people talk about

 

             22               the profits and the losses, what happens to

 

             23               all these tax dollars that are not going to

 

 

             24               come into the Township along with the others?

 

             25               Who is going to benefit most likely by the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         102

 

              1               whole project, rather than the people of

 

              2               Readington Township?

 

              3                       There has to be other ways of

 

 

              4               benefitting, too, and that is what I am asking

 

              5               you people, who will really benefit by this

 

              6               take over of the airport?  Not the people of

 

              7               the Township, they are going to lose all the

 

 

              8               way around.  If we ever had a depression, who

 

              9               will pay for their taxes?  Thank you.

 

             10                       MR. GOODWIN:  I am Bill Goodwin.  I

 

             11               want to make a few points.

 

 

             12                       The first one is the distinction

 

             13               between an airport used for recreational

 

             14               purposes and an airport used for public

 

             15               transportation.  By public transportation, it

 

 

             16               would include commuter flights, corporate

 

             17               flights, corporate traffic, business freight

 

             18               traffic, as opposed to a recreational airport

 

             19               used strictly for small aircraft.

 

 

             20                       The second point I would like to make

 

             21               is for those airport transportations, they are

 

             22               generally owned by the public.  Lodging for

 

             23               the airport guests, they will be owned by the

 

 

             24               public. 

 

             25                       The third point I would like to make

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         103

 

              1               is that the Solbergs have consistently sought

 

              2               to expand, to make the airport into a larger

 

              3               public-type transportation airport, which

 

 

              4               means that at some point the Township was

 

              5               going to have another public body forced to

 

              6               run the airport, if it is publicly owned,

 

              7               because of the problems they cause.  If there

 

 

              8               are multiple problems around the community,

 

              9               problems with the neighborhood noise and so

 

             10               forth, and in order to balance these

 

             11               properties with public interest, it enjoys

 

 

             12               public ownership.

 

             13                       Another point I would like to make is

 

             14               the Solbergs have to expand Solberg Airport.

 

             15               They entered into an agreement with the State

 

 

             16               that they will voluntarily agree that they

 

             17               will enter into negotiations to sell their

 

             18               airport.

 

             19                       Putting these things together, at some

 

 

             20               point the Township will have to buy the

 

             21               airport, so you can buy it now at whatever

 

             22               price it would be, or you can buy it later

 

             23               after it expands and it becomes a large public

 

 

             24               nuisance.

 

             25                       If you buy it later, it will be

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         104

 

              1               impossible.  The Township has a choice, you

 

              2               could buy it now at whatever price that would

 

              3               be, or buy it later at some future time after

 

 

              4               expansion where you will be paying possibly

 

              5               double the price.  Thank you.

 

              6                       MR. OELIO:  John Oelio.  I've lived in

 

              7               Readington Township since 1984.  I moved here

 

 

              8               from North Plainfield.  I grew up in

 

              9               Plainfield and it seems like a lot of these

 

             10               issues is complicated, because they are also

 

             11               pretty simple.  I think most of the people

 

 

             12               here are from towns like Linden and Rahway and

 

             13               Elizabeth, and they came here to get a little

 

             14               piece of heaven.  I have my little acre and

 

             15               three-quarters of heaven, and I have been

 

 

             16               involved in these meetings, because I don't

 

             17               want to get polluted.  I believe we will get

 

             18               polluted if jets come in.

 

             19                       I am in favor of the bond issue.  I am

 

 

             20               not in favor of having a mediator.  This is

 

             21               Readington's business.  I went out, I knocked

 

             22               door to door, and people do not want jets.

 

             23               They are not stupid, they understand what is

 

 

             24               going to happen.  The inconsistencies in Mr.

 

             25               Solberg's literature are laughable, they're

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         105

 

              1               embarrassing to me.  This is in the newspaper,

 

              2               as to what he wants, what we want and he

 

              3               writes a letter saying he doesn't want to

 

 

              4               change the airport.  People say well, we have

 

              5               inconsistencies.  I have been looking at this

 

              6               in an unbiased sight, and I don't see

 

              7               inconsistencies on our part, I am not a brain

 

 

              8               surgeon.  When it comes to the political

 

              9               issues of what to use to bring this to a head,

 

             10               where there is some viable negotiations,

 

             11               because if you think about this for a minute,

 

 

             12               the simplicity of it is that if you own land,

 

             13               you will stall as long as you can, and that

 

             14               will drive the property values up.

 

             15                       So listen, the bond ordinance, I

 

 

             16               believe it should pass.  I believe it is a

 

             17               great thing.  The Committee has done a great

 

             18               thing for Readington Township, and I hope you

 

             19               all continue.

 

 

             20                       (Applause.)

 

             21                       MR. AIMOVITCH:  Frank Aimovitch, I

 

             22               have been following this for the last ten

 

             23               years, and I find the most inconsistent

 

 

             24               statements by Mr. Thor Solberg, and it is

 

             25               unbelievable.  Anyway, I will not go back over

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         106

 

              1               the last ten years, but I received this

 

              2               letter, as everyone else did, on February

 

              3               16th, 2006.  I would like to read the last

 

 

              4               paragraph, the last couple of sentences.  "In

 

              5               closing, I want to assure you that any future

 

              6               plans will include working closely with our

 

              7               neighbors."  I would like to underline this

 

 

              8               statement, "We are happy with the airport the

 

              9               way it is, and believe that having a Balloon

 

             10               Festival, youth tours and open houses has

 

             11               helped enhance the quality of life we have all

 

 

             12               enjoyed.  I hope you all agree.  Thank you."

 

             13                       I see it is signed by Mr. Thor

 

             14               Solberg.  I don't know how many of you went to

 

             15               Raritan Valley College, I don't remember

 

 

             16               whether it was six or seven years ago when Mr.

 

             17               Thor Solberg unfolded his huge plan to expand

 

             18               this airport.  I do remember Leonard Lance,

 

             19               the FAA, the Department of Transportation and

 

 

             20               many jet people, the other members were there,

 

             21               and Mr. Solberg was there.  I am wondering how

 

             22               he can make a statement now that he is happy

 

             23               with the way the airport is, and six or seven

 

 

             24               years ago, unfold this master plan before

 

             25               Readington Township.  I guess, I don't know if

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         107

 

              1               it was for the FAA with the maps on the wall,

 

              2               the scale, the architectural drawings of the

 

              3               length of the runways, the turnoffs, the 150-

 

 

              4               foot runway widths and taxi lanes.  What was

 

              5               all that about?  For somebody that doesn't

 

              6               really want to expand an airport and likes it

 

              7               the way it is, it seems that this gentleman

 

 

              8               contradicts himself with everything he says.

 

              9               But that is only my opinion.

 

             10                       I will leave the opinion up to you,

 

             11               but I hear a lot of people talking about all

 

 

             12               kinds of things.  I don't know, I hope I am

 

             13               not insulting anyone, but I don't think

 

             14               anyone who followed this for any great length

 

             15               of time, I wish you would probably have had

 

 

             16               done this, and you will see what really

 

             17               transpired.  But anyway, in closing, I leave

 

             18               everything up to you.  This is a quality of

 

             19               life issue.  It is not how much money you pay

 

 

             20               in taxes, taxes are going up every day.  They

 

             21               are going up everywhere.  It is strictly, once

 

             22               again, quality of life and nothing else.

 

             23                       You want an airport, you want jets,

 

 

             24               noise, you want more traffic, it is up to the

 

             25               individual to make the decision.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         108

 

              1                       I support the Board 100 percent to get

 

              2               to the bottom of the situation.  It has been

 

              3               going on far too long with Mr. Solberg. 

 

 

              4                       Just to close, I have been in aviation

 

              5               for 46 years, and I see what airports do to

 

              6               communities, and you could all do your

 

              7               homework, just go on the internet and look up

 

 

              8               airports. Thank you very much.

 

              9                       MR. PONTEZORBO:  My name is Steve

 

             10               Pontezorbo, and it is difficult to cover

 

             11               topics that haven't been covered, but I will

 

 

             12               say two general comments.  I have attended as

 

             13               many of these meetings as possible and, to

 

             14               date, I have yet to hear any suggestion that

 

             15               is better than the bond ordinance.  So I

 

 

             16               suggest, respectfully, anyone that states they

 

             17               oppose it, you have an alternative or solution

 

             18               in its place, and not doing so is not

 

             19               productive for anybody here this evening.  The

 

 

             20               answer is not to wait until expansion is

 

             21               imminent, that will be too late at that point,

 

             22               and that is not to suggest that I don't think

 

             23               expansion is imminent.  To those who say the

 

 

             24               property is not for sale, Solberg said so,

 

             25               there are many issues to date.  They say one

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         109

 

              1               thing and they act differently.  In this case,

 

              2               entering into negotiations in which they

 

              3               suggest millions of dollars for land that is

 

 

              4               supposedly not for sale.

 

              5                       The second point is not only am I in

 

              6               favor of the bond ordinance, and this is not

 

              7               to suggest I don't think it would be valid or

 

 

              8               just to do so, but I would be willing to pay

 

              9               taxes on twice that amount.  I would rather

 

             10               pay higher taxes on an expensive house than

 

             11               lower taxes on an inexpensive house.  That is

 

 

             12               not to suggest that the taxes will go up with

 

             13               the airport expansion or housing, because I

 

             14               believe they will.  As the gentleman just

 

             15               previously stated, taxes go up.  I would

 

 

             16               rather pay higher taxes on an expensive house

 

             17               than lower taxes on an inexpensive house.  I

 

             18               have no reason to believe that the Solbergs

 

             19               will not expand the airport.  I have no reason

 

 

             20               to believe that will not happen.

 

             21                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Next?

 

             22                       MR. KRAUSE:  My name is Dan Krause,

 

             23               Stoneybridge Stables, One Brook Tree Road,

 

 

             24               Whitehouse Station.

 

             25                       Ladies and gentlemen, I am not worried

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         110

 

              1               about the airport runway expansion, I am not

 

              2               worried about our property values decreasing.

 

              3               In fact, I am scared to death.  Everything

 

 

              4               that everyone in here has worked so hard to

 

              5               begin will be lost.  I applaud your efforts

 

              6               and everything you to do to stop this

 

              7               expansion.  Thank you.

 

 

              8                       MRS. BELLEK:  I am Lisa Bellek, and

 

              9               you will see my street on the map in front of

 

             10               you.

 

             11                       First of all, I think it is sad, I

 

 

             12               know this Committee has tried to educate the

 

             13               community on taxes.  The majority of our taxes

 

             14               goes to our school system, and I am happy to

 

             15               say that my two and four year olds should

 

 

             16               hopefully some day attend these schools,

 

             17               because they are highly rated.  So for those

 

             18               of you who are concerned about taxes, I urge

 

             19               you to go to Bridgewater, go to Flemington, go

 

 

             20               someplace else.  By the way, their taxes in

 

             21               those places are even higher than ours.

 

             22                       I don't believe if I was to inflate

 

             23               ten big balloons, hot air balloons, that this

 

 

             24               Township would allow me to do that.  If I was

 

             25               to do that, the Solbergs could not land or

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         111

 

              1               take off jets.  I happen to be at the end of

 

              2               their runway.  They would have to use a

 

              3               different runway that crosses in front of the

 

 

              4               school.  So I urge this Committee, please end

 

              5               this.   I have lived here 11 years, I love

 

              6               this town, I love what this town stands for.

 

              7               I just want this over with.  It has just been

 

 

              8               dragging on too long, and it is costing us

 

              9               more money in the long run.  Let's end it, get

 

             10               it over with and move on and maybe then we can

 

             11               handle some of the motel problems that we have

 

 

             12               on Route 22.  Thank you.

 

             13                       MR. KALINICH:  John Kalinich, I live

 

             14               on Rockford Lane, which is also on the map,

 

             15               unfortunately, mislabeled.  I am in the way of

 

 

             16               the flight path.  I lived here for 20 years.

 

             17               I came here in 1985, years before the FAA

 

             18               passed any ability for a private airport

 

             19               owner, like the Solbergs, to be able to be

 

 

             20               grandfathered in.  That didn't happen until

 

             21               many years later, after Mr. Solberg lobbied

 

             22               Congress.

 

             23                       We talked about other scenarios

 

 

             24               tonight, one that had to do with the bonding

 

             25               that you are trying to do to help negotiate an

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         112

 

              1               agreement with the Solbergs, and the other has

 

              2               to do with a significant and dramatic airport

 

              3               expansion.  The Solbergs are in a win/win

 

 

              4               situation.  They can accept a generous offer

 

              5               that the Township might be able to make based

 

              6               on the bonding for the $22 million, and that

 

              7               would be a significant gain for them.

 

 

              8               Alternatively, they can accept a similar

 

              9               amount of money in FAA grants.  The estimate

 

             10               was $21 million for the expansion back in

 

             11               1997, which expanded their airport

 

 

             12               significantly.

 

             13                       The second alternative, though, would

 

             14               cost the residents dearly.  The inverse

 

             15               condemnation that the Solbergs will be

 

 

             16               imposing upon the property owners of

 

             17               Readington Township, where they will not be

 

             18               compensated, is intolerable.  Either way, the

 

             19               Solbergs could win, or one way the remaining

 

 

             20               citizens will lose, big time.  Let's move

 

             21               ahead to a final resolution of this issue.

 

             22               Thank you.

 

             23                       MRS. JAUNARAJS:  My name is Michelle

 

 

             24               Jaunarajs, and my husband and I own a house at

 

             25               101 Polaski Road, just outside of the yellow

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         113

 

              1               area on the piece of paper we all see.  I was

 

              2               looking at whether or not our property

 

              3               bordered Lightfield Road. 

 

 

              4                       I have heard lots of stuff said before

 

              5               and in the interest of time I will try not to

 

              6               reiterate what was said before.  One small

 

              7               fact that struck me in looking at the

 

 

              8               literature is the hangar size.  I want to zero

 

              9               in on that for a minute.  Everybody says we

 

             10               will have bigger and bigger and heavier jets

 

             11               and noisier jets.  If the jetport goes in,

 

 

             12               that is.  Well, we are talking about a hangar

 

             13               size increase of Mr. Solberg and his family,

 

             14               they would like to increase it from 30,000

 

             15               square feet to 500,000 square feet, if I am

 

 

             16               reading that right.  I don't need to do the

 

             17               math in my head, but the Township is willing

 

             18               to go from 30,000 square feet to 150,000

 

             19               square feet, which is a considerable increase.

 

 

             20               Now we are talking 500,000.  It doesn't have

 

             21               to mean bigger and noisier and louder jets, it

 

             22               could mean lots and lots and lots of smaller

 

             23               planes, which means lots and lots and lots

 

 

             24               more lights over my house every day somehow or

 

             25               other.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         114

 

              1                       I just don't understand how we can be

 

              2               spoon-fed information that there will not be

 

              3               an increase in noise, an increase in safety

 

 

              4               concerns, an increase in pollution concerns.

 

              5                       The increase will support traffic of

 

              6               people coming and going.  Some of this may be

 

              7               office space, some of it may be a lovely

 

 

              8               restaurant, and that would be wonderful, but

 

              9               to go from 30,000 square feet to 500,000

 

             10               square feet and say it will not have an impact

 

             11               on the property value on my home, I am just

 

 

             12               lost.  I can't believe this.  I believe

 

             13               everybody would love to look back at our

 

             14               neighbors, the Solberg family and ask humbly

 

             15               if they would speak with us, and if not this

 

 

             16               evening, at the next meeting, because in

 

             17               speaking with each of them personally, both

 

             18               Lorraine, Suzie and Mr. Solberg, I found them

 

             19               to be very personable on a human level, on a

 

 

             20               neighborly level.

 

             21                       We live down the road from each other,

 

             22               we should be able to talk to each other.  But

 

             23               I really, really think if we can get up here a

 

 

             24               little more often, rather than always have

 

             25               prepared statements in the newspaper that

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         115

 

              1               people will thrash over for hours and hours of

 

              2               microphone, I would really like to hear from

 

              3               the Solbergs in these proceedings.  I commend

 

 

              4               the Township Committee for making every effort

 

              5               to have these public hearings, but I think we

 

              6               need to go an inch and a half further and try

 

              7               to be sure that the Solberg Aviation family is

 

 

              8               represented, and also present here to speak to

 

              9               us, too.  That is in the interest of

 

             10               negotiating things.  I certainly would like to

 

             11               hear from them.

 

 

             12                       I certainly would not want to see my

 

             13               property values go down, I can't afford

 

             14               another nickel in taxes, but I am up against a

 

             15               wall right now.  I also don't want to have the

 

 

             16               value of my house go down.  So I would like to

 

             17               hear some more negotiating going on, as

 

             18               opposed to jumping into eminent domain.  I

 

             19               would hate to see my house taken away because

 

 

             20               someone wants to put up a parking lot for the

 

             21               ball park across the street. I would like to

 

             22               see negotiations carried on.  Thank you very

 

             23               much.

 

 

             24                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  All the way in the back

 

             25               of the room, is there anybody else, please

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         116

 

              1               come forward.

 

              2                       MRS. POTENTA:  Mary Potenta.  I wasn't

 

              3               going to say anything, but I have lived here a

 

 

              4               long time, over 25 years, and I think you have

 

              5               done a great job as representing me.  But I am

 

              6               afraid, I see the anger on people's faces in

 

              7               this room and it makes me afraid.  I have

 

 

              8               never been afraid before.  I am almost afraid

 

              9               to speak my mind.  I am afraid, I hope this

 

             10               isn't about eminent domain, I hope that it can

 

             11               be fair and honest, because I don't want this

 

 

             12               to happen to anybody else.

 

             13                       MR. BALDWIN:  Don Baldwin, 366

 

             14               Readington Road.

 

             15                       I agree with that young lady that just

 

 

             16               spoke, because my family knows the abuse of

 

             17               eminent domain.  I was in court for nearly two

 

             18               years with the abuse of another county, so

 

             19               this matter is all too sensitive in my home.

 

 

             20                       I would like to say that I am against

 

             21               the passage of this bond tonight on multiple

 

             22               myriads of reasons, including my tax bill is

 

             23               high enough already.  I think that eminent

 

 

             24               domain is an abuse, and let's shame the devil

 

             25               and tell the truth, tonight's meeting is about

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         117

 

              1               eminent domain.  The speakers at this podium

 

              2               will not alter the vote tonight, Mr. Shamey

 

              3               spoke about the EPA, the meeting was an

 

 

              4               insult.  It was a fait accompli.  This is a

 

              5               fait accompli tonight.  I would like to say

 

              6               that if this Committee is so certain and so

 

              7               confident and this Committee is 100 percent

 

 

              8               behind you, you should have no problem putting

 

              9               this into a referendum before the voters.

 

             10               Thank you.

 

             11                       (Applause.)

 

 

             12                       MR. SOLBERG:  Thor Solberg.

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You really need to bear

 

             14               down on the microphone.

 

             15                       MR. SOLBERG:  My name is Thor Solberg,

 

 

             16               and I am a principal in Solberg Aviation,

 

             17               which owns the property that Solberg Airport

 

             18               is on. 

 

             19                       I have been here all evening listening

 

 

             20               to the comments of everyone.  It is clear that

 

             21               there are, genuine emotions on both sides of

 

             22               the issue here, and we are very cognizant of

 

             23               those issues.

 

 

             24                       When the last bond ordinance was

 

             25               proposed and the public came and said we don't

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         118

 

              1               want you taking this family's property away

 

              2               from them, we want you to work with them to

 

              3               find a solution that we can all live with,

 

 

              4               the then Mayor Gatti came to me and said,

 

              5               "Let's sit down and talk."  And we opened up

 

              6               ourselves to that negotiation, because that is

 

              7               in the best interests of everybody.  It is in

 

 

              8               the best interests of the Solbergs, and it is

 

              9               in the best interests of everybody that lives

 

             10               in town.

 

             11                       There was only one premise that I said

 

 

             12               at the beginning of that negotiation, and that

 

             13               was to strive to find a solution that would

 

             14               allow the airport to provide benefits to the

 

             15               town, while protecting the town from any undue

 

 

             16               intrusion from the airplanes operating there.

 

             17               We talked about a lot of ways that it could be

 

             18               done, but we needed to come to an under-

 

             19               standing of what was reasonable and what was

 

 

             20               not.

 

             21                       Obviously, airplanes taking off every

 

             22               30 seconds is totally unreasonable.  An

 

             23               airplane that takes off once a year is well

 

 

             24               within reason.  Somewhere between those

 

             25               numbers is a reasonable number, and that is a

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         119

 

              1               very difficult and somewhat esoteric, I think,

 

              2               program to try to find, and it takes a lot of

 

              3               sound experts, and I talked to Mayor Gatti

 

 

              4               about retaining such experts.  We had a list

 

              5               of experts that had been recommended to them.

 

              6               There were two of them in particular on that

 

              7               list, both of them I agreed were the best in

 

 

              8               the industry.  Neither of them were retained.

 

              9                       And the negotiations, after the

 

             10               election, just went downhill.  They were no

 

             11               longer interested in talking about measuring

 

 

             12               the impact of the airport on the community.

 

             13               They were only interested in defining specific

 

             14               limitations.  Since we did not have a proposed

 

             15               change in mind, it was very difficult to

 

 

             16               analyze any impact of what would happen.

 

             17                       I have listened to the people tonight,

 

             18               and I apologize if it seems that there was a

 

             19               lot of confusion in what we are saying.  There

 

 

             20               was a Master Plan done ten years ago.  In the

 

             21               last ten years nothing has been done to

 

             22               implement that plan, and there is no plan now

 

             23               to do anything to implement that plan.  That

 

 

             24               is why I say that we are not planning any

 

             25               changes, that we are happy with the type of

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         120

 

              1               airport that we have right now in the

 

              2               community.  I think that we are very proud of

 

              3               being able to offer to everyone in town the

 

 

              4               opportunity to come to the airport and enjoy

 

              5               the open space that has been there for almost

 

              6               70 years.

 

              7                       It is important, and I think Mayor

 

 

              8               Shamey in a way alluded to it earlier, for

 

              9               everyone to recognize that we can't make a

 

             10               change without a lot of red tape, none of

 

             11               which is in process, and not the least of

 

 

             12               which is the approval of a site plan from

 

             13               Readington Township.

 

             14                       Mayor Shamey said that Readington

 

             15               Township has not adopted the State Airport

 

 

             16               Safety Zoning Act, which means we have a

 

             17               classification as a pre-existing non-

 

             18               conforming use in the zone that we are

 

             19               operating, in a zone that is a residential

 

 

             20               zone and, therefore, we don't have any rights

 

             21               to do anything unless we get a variance from

 

             22               the Township.

 

             23                       People have been talking about $12

 

 

             24               million that the FAA has to set aside.  With

 

             25               all due respect to Mayor Shamey, that money is

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         121

 

              1               not set aside for Solberg Aviation, it is a

 

              2               long document that inventories all of the

 

              3               needs of aviation across the country.  And if

 

 

              4               you added them all up, there would be more

 

              5               need there than the Government could ever fund

 

              6               in the lifetime of myself, my children and

 

              7               their children.

 

 

              8                       There is very little money available

 

              9               in the FAA right now, and the odds of our

 

             10               getting any money for any improvement, if we

 

             11               were to apply for it, is rather limited, if

 

 

             12               almost non-existent.  But the important thing,

 

             13               I think, is that we have not applied for it.

 

             14               We have not applied for any money whatsoever.

 

             15               We have not applied for any changes at the

 

 

             16               airport whatsoever.  The only thing we have

 

             17               applied for from a funding point of view is

 

             18               for the New Jersey Division of Aeronautics,

 

             19               and that is to rehabilitate our existing

 

 

             20               facility, including taxiways, runways which

 

             21               are cracked and to actually pave some of the

 

             22               areas we use, in terms of our taxiways and

 

             23               ramps, so they can be used in wet weather

 

 

             24               safely.

 

             25                       But never any sort of an expansion or

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         122

 

              1               addition that would lengthen the runway beyond

 

              2               what it is currently licensed at, 3,735.

 

              3                       I am running out of time, I guess.

 

 

              4                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You can go on for a

 

              5               couple more minutes.

 

              6                       MR. SOLBERG:  I came here to speak not

 

              7               about the airport or its plans, other than to

 

 

              8               say that we don't have construction plans or

 

              9               anything other than what is there right now.

 

             10                       I came to speak about the bond.

 

             11               Before I speak about the bond, though, based

 

 

             12               on some of the comments I heard this evening,

 

             13               I want to talk about finding a solution.

 

             14                       Bob Kalinich made an excellent speech.

 

             15               Ed Dudzinski made some excellent points.  My

 

 

             16               neighbor on Polaski Road made some excellent

 

             17               points.  We all live there together.  I am

 

             18               part of Solberg Airport, and Solberg Airport

 

             19               has been a resident for many years, and it is

 

 

             20               true that I did grow up here and I did raise

 

             21               my children here, and Solberg airport has been

 

             22               my life.  It is a part of my heart, it is a

 

             23               part of what our father gave to us.

 

 

             24                       So I have a tie with Readington that

 

             25               will never go away, and I would like to find a

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         123

 

              1               solution myself.  I think that if we went back

 

              2               to the negotiating table and I disagree with

 

              3               the mediator, I could not see a mediator as

 

 

              4               someone who would establish a solution, they

 

              5               do not establish a solution, they establish a

 

              6               method of solution between the parties, and it

 

              7               is clear from the confusion I hear from the

 

 

              8               people who speak, that there is a true

 

              9               misunderstanding of what this negotiation was

 

             10               all about.

 

             11                       I spoke with someone in the hall

 

 

             12               earlier and he looked at Mayor Shamey's

 

             13               letter, and looked at my letter and said, "How

 

             14               can these people be in the same room talking

 

             15               about the same thing, because they are totally

 

 

             16               different."

 

             17                       A mediator or party, a facilitator,

 

             18               maybe Ed Dudzinski, maybe somebody in the

 

             19               community that everybody trusts, can be the

 

 

             20               person that issues the statement and then

 

             21               there is no confusion.  Then there is no

 

             22               argument about he said/she said, this says, or

 

             23               someone else said.

 

 

             24                       But we need time to do that.  If we

 

             25               start talking about solutions that actually

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         124

 

              1               deal with the problem -- I appreciate the

 

              2               problem.  I grew up on the end of the runway

 

              3               on Polaski Road, and my kids grew up on the

 

 

              4               end of the runway on Polaski Road and we are

 

              5               here, the airplanes fly over our house all the

 

              6               time, so I know what airplanes sound like, and

 

              7               I know too many of them are too loud or too

 

 

              8               much.

 

              9                       We are willing and we want to

 

             10               establish some criteria which puts a limit on

 

             11               it, so we know it never will have the

 

 

             12               intrusion of a Morristown or Teterboro or, God

 

             13               forbid LaGuardia, and that is where we want to

 

             14               go.  But there is an impatience that seems to

 

             15               be present to find a solution, and I can

 

 

             16               appreciate that.

 

             17                       Many people who spoke tonight in this

 

             18               room, ourselves included, who have been living

 

             19               there for a long time, know that for the last

 

 

             20               five years we haven't been doing anything.

 

             21               Everybody has been happy.  We want to make

 

             22               some improvements to the existing facility.

 

             23                       If we, in the future, ever wanted to

 

 

             24               do anything, we would come to the Town and ask

 

             25               to do it.  That has been our position, and I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         125

 

              1               believe that has been very consistent.  The

 

              2               position ten years ago was that the Master

 

              3               Plan needs to be updated.  It has never been

 

 

              4               pursued.  It is not being pursued now.  As far

 

              5               as the bond is concerned, it is not needed for

 

              6               us to negotiate in good faith with the Town,

 

              7               it is only needed for condemnation.  It is

 

 

              8               only needed for the use of eminent domain, and

 

              9               I have to say and I believe most people in

 

             10               this town will agree, that eminent domain is

 

             11               fundamentally wrong.

 

 

             12                       I can only think of my dad and how

 

             13               much he loved this country for what it stood

 

             14               for.  He would be shocked to think that what

 

             15               he left his children could be taken away from

 

 

             16               them because of the Government taking it.

 

             17               That is not to mention the cost.  I can agree

 

             18               that it is only an extra 50 bucks a year or 60

 

             19               bucks a year, and that is assuming the judge

 

 

             20               at the end of the whole proceeding says it is

 

             21               22 million.  What if the judge says it is 60

 

             22               millon or maybe more, maybe it is okay for an

 

             23               extra $500 a year, but I beg you not to be so

 

 

             24               callous.  I beg you to understand that we are

 

             25               people who spent a lifetime on a piece of

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         126

 

              1               property, and we are willing to make sure that

 

              2               property does not hurt you.  We want to work

 

              3               with people to do that. 

 

 

              4                       I would suggest that maybe we have a

 

              5               meeting where we can be present, all of us,

 

              6               you knew my sister couldn't be here tonight,

 

              7               so it really didn't -- it really wasn't the

 

 

              8               proper venue to have all the Solbergs present.

 

              9               Maybe we can in a month or two, but let us put

 

             10               together some kind of a program to, basically,

 

             11               in more detail, tell you what I just told you

 

 

             12               now, because condemnation is the wrong thing,

 

             13               and the sad part is that the people of the

 

             14               town, they do not have an opportunity to voice

 

             15               their opinion about it.  It is only the

 

 

             16               decision of the Committee.  They don't have to

 

             17               seek your referendum, they don't have to seek

 

             18               your approval.  There is only one way that the

 

             19               voter can actually determine for themselves

 

 

             20               the outcome, and that is to petition against

 

             21               the bond ordinance that is passed.

 

             22                       If the people of the town petition the

 

             23               Government to have the right to vote on the

 

 

             24               bond ordinance, then you will have the right

 

             25               to vote.  I urge you that this Committee does

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         127

 

              1               not need to press forward without allowing

 

              2               some time for us to discuss this in a

 

              3               neighborly way.

 

 

              4                       I urge everyone to at least petition

 

              5               them to have the opportunity for everyone to

 

              6               speak on the issue, everyone to have a vote,

 

              7               because I think the people in town deserve it.

 

 

              8                       Everybody who pays taxes in the town

 

              9               deserves the right on such an enormous

 

             10               acquisition as this airport, such an enormous

 

             11               liability that this would be financially.

 

 

             12               Everybody in town deserves a right to have a

 

             13               vote on that.

 

             14                       But I don't know if you guys want to

 

             15               hold up.

 

 

             16                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I would like to address

 

             17               a couple of things that you said.  Are you

 

             18               finished?

 

             19                       MR. SOLBERG:  Yes.  I can sit down.

 

 

             20                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Mr. Solberg, one thing

 

             21               I want to make clear to you, you said we don't

 

             22               need a bond ordinance to negotiate.  Well,

 

             23               keep in mind that we still have to pass an

 

 

             24               ordinance to move forward with the eminent

 

             25               domain.  You asked for good faith, and you

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         128

 

              1               show none.  You asked for honesty and respect

 

              2               in our dealings with you, and you show us

 

              3               none.  What are we to do with letters to the

 

 

              4               editor and to the public?  We are not

 

              5               proposing extending the runway.  August, the

 

              6               majority of the residents, residents like

 

              7               things the way they are, we have no intention

 

 

              8               of doing anything to hurt Readington or damage

 

              9               their special quality of life.  November 2nd,

 

             10               it is unfortunate some of us have used the

 

             11               airport to drive us apart.

 

 

             12                       August 22nd in a transcript from a

 

             13               public hearing, "Keeping the property in green

 

             14               and open would be a cornerstone in our future

 

             15               negotiations with the Committee.  We are

 

 

             16               determined to make sure no development

 

             17               occurs."

 

             18                       It is time, with all due respect, for

 

             19               an honesty check.  It is time for you to tell

 

 

             20               the residents of Readington exactly what you

 

             21               would like to do.  You say there is no money

 

             22               available, this is only a planning document,

 

             23               and I said that.  I know that it is only a

 

 

             24               planning document.

 

             25                       MR. SOLBERG:  I heard you say that.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         129

 

              1                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You haven't applied for

 

              2               anything, yet you did get on the brink of

 

              3               approval in the environmental assessment

 

 

              4               process.  You want consideration from us, and

 

              5               respect, and honesty, and good faith and you

 

              6               show us none.  You laugh at us.  Enough is

 

              7               enough.

 

 

              8                       So you must start with some honesty,

 

              9               okay.  You have to do us a favor and please

 

             10               stop insulting us with these push-polls.

 

             11                       (Applause.)

 

 

             12                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Your push-poll, I

 

             13               probably would answer to every question on it.

 

             14               You see me ride my bike at your airport, I

 

             15               love it over there, I love the airport and the

 

 

             16               Balloon Festival, I would vote yes on probably

 

             17               all of these.  Well, not all of them, but

 

             18               please stop insulting us with the push-polls,

 

             19               they are a joke.

 

 

             20                       A VOICE:  And you don't --

 

             21                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Please don't yell out

 

             22               from the audience.  Please don't do that.

 

             23                       Now, you talked about no money being

 

 

             24               available.  This is only a blank document, but

 

             25               what you didn't talk about is what we want,

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         130

 

              1               and the problem we are faced with is this, I

 

              2               haven't any reason to believe Mr. Gatti and

 

              3               Ms. Allen came back to this Committee and made

 

 

              4               up what happened at these negotiation

 

              5               sessions.  I believe what they told me, okay,

 

              6               and what they told me, and you can confirm

 

              7               this or deny it right now, is that your

 

 

              8               advisor, and you started out saying 5,600 feet

 

              9               or nothing else.  Then you slipped back to

 

             10               5,000.  What I am here to ask you tonight is

 

             11               did you or did you not say in the course of

 

 

             12               these negotiations anything less than 5,000

 

             13               feet on the runway is a no go?

 

             14                       MR. SOLBERG:  I did not say that.

 

             15                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I am not finished yet.

 

 

             16               You opened another door.  Mr. Berger on the

 

             17               phone to me --

 

             18                       MR. SOLBERG:  You want me to talk?

 

             19                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I will give you a

 

 

             20               chance to respond to me, but I am not finished

 

             21               yet.

 

             22                       MR. SOLBERG:  It will be a lot easier

 

             23               for me since I am older than you to respond

 

 

             24               one at a time than all the way at the end.

 

             25                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Let me ask the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         131

 

              1               question.  Do you contend Mr. Gatti and Ms.

 

              2               Allen lied to this Committee when they said

 

              3               that was your position?

 

 

              4                       MR. SOLBERG:  No.

 

              5                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Did you or did you not

 

              6               say you wanted a 5,000 foot runway and nothing

 

              7               else?

 

 

              8                       MR. SOLBERG:  May I explain?

 

              9                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  No, you can say yes or

 

             10               no.

 

             11                       A VOICE:  Give him a chance to

 

 

             12               explain.

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Don't shout out from

 

             14               the audience.  And just answer my question.

 

             15                       MR. SOLBERG:  Am I on trial here?

 

 

             16                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Answer the question yes

 

             17               or no.

 

             18                       MR. SOLBERG:  This is the exact reason

 

             19               there should be a third party, an impartial

 

 

             20               party because, obviously, there is a

 

             21               misunderstanding here.

 

             22                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  No, there is mistrust

 

             23               here.

 

 

             24                       A VOICE:  Who is Larry Berger?

 

             25                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You had conditional

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         132

 

              1               approval, that was ready to go, but for the

 

              2               environmental assessment, the only thing

 

              3               standing in the way between the expansion and

 

 

              4               that was the final checking off of the

 

              5               approval of the DOT.  So what are we to do?

 

              6                       MR. SOLBERG:  That is not correct,

 

              7               sir.

 

 

              8                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  How is it not correct?

 

              9                       MR. SOLBERG:  All we had was an

 

             10               approved Master Plan document, a planning

 

             11               document, not a construction document.  It is

 

 

             12               not available for construction until you do

 

             13               the engineering and get environmental

 

             14               approvals and site plan approvals from DOT,

 

             15               the plans from the FAA, years of work.  We are

 

 

             16               nowhere near it and we haven't even started.

 

             17                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  But that is what you

 

             18               want to do, right?  What do you want to do?

 

             19                       MR. SOLBERG:  I don't know what we

 

 

             20               want to do.  You are forcing me to say

 

             21               something.

 

             22                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  It is unfortunate that

 

             23               someone used the airport to drive us apart.

 

 

             24                       MR. SOLBERG:  You are doing a very

 

             25               good job of it.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         133

 

              1                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Quite frankly, you are

 

              2               doing a great job of it, and maybe you are

 

              3               having fun, I don't know, but I am not having

 

 

              4               fun anymore.  It is time to move this thing

 

              5               forward, and it is time for you to get honest.

 

              6                       MR. SOLBERG:  I have been honest.

 

              7                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  No, you haven't.  You

 

 

              8               haven't been honest, you say one thing to the

 

              9               papers and the residents and another thing in

 

             10               here.

 

             11                       MR. SOLBERG:  List them again, check

 

 

             12               them off one at a time.

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  No, I won't.  Enough is

 

             14               enough.

 

             15                       MR. SOLBERG:  Everything you read was

 

 

             16               true, everything I said is true.

 

             17                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Okay, hold on a second,

 

             18               because I have a good one for you.  You told

 

             19               the Courier News you have no plan or intention

 

 

             20               to extend the runway.  Is that true?

 

             21                       MR. SOLBERG:  That is what I said to

 

             22               you tonight.

 

             23                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  That is true, you don't

 

 

             24               want to extend the runway?

 

             25                       MR. SOLBERG:  We don't want to do it

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         134

 

              1               today.

 

              2                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  That is all.  Now we

 

              3               know you want to expand the runway, but not

 

 

              4               today.  We are making some progress here.

 

              5                       MR. SOLBERG:  I didn't say I was going

 

              6               to expand the runway.

 

              7                       A VOICE:  How long?

 

 

              8                       MR. SOLBERG:  That is up to future

 

              9               generations to decide.  How can you make

 

             10               judgments of what people will want to do 30

 

             11               years from today?

 

 

             12                       MR. AURIEMMA:  If I can interject and

 

             13               say something, at the February 6th meeting

 

             14               Mrs. Nagle said that we don't want to expand

 

             15               the airport in the near future, within the

 

 

             16               next couple of years.  So that is not 30 years

 

             17               from now.

 

             18                       MR. SOLBERG:  You are missing the

 

             19               point.  The point is that any future request,

 

 

             20               any addition like anyone else in town, will

 

             21               have to come back to you to analyze whether or

 

             22               not that addition would have an adverse

 

             23               impact, and if it does, it won't happen.

 

 

             24                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You know that statement

 

             25               is less than accurate.  You know that.  Once

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         135

 

              1               you take Federal money --

 

              2                       MR. SOLBERG:  Nobody is taking Federal

 

              3               money.

 

 

              4                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  How will you expand it?

 

              5               We are not paying for it.

 

              6                       MR. SOLBERG:  We are not expanding.

 

              7                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Here is where this

 

 

              8               Committee, where the people say this is a rush

 

              9               and so forth, this is not a rush, this has

 

             10               gone on long enough.  It is not a rash

 

             11               decision.

 

 

             12                       MR. SOLBERG:  I didn't expect you not

 

             13               to do what you are going to do tonight

 

             14               because, as someone pointed out, I thought it

 

             15               was Bud -- but this really isn't a public

 

 

             16               hearing to listen to people.

 

             17                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Sure it is.

 

             18                       MR. SOLBERG:  No, it is a requirement

 

             19               of the law, because you already decided to

 

 

             20               vote the bond in prior to the hearing, and

 

             21               that is what you said.

 

             22                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I did?  Unless you came

 

             23               in here and did something miraculous, I knew

 

 

             24               walking in here I would vote yes.  I don't

 

             25               know about the rest of the Committee, but I

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         136

 

              1               knew I was.

 

              2                       MR. SOLBERG:  I have to say to the

 

              3               people of this town that the only reason for

 

 

              4               this bond ordinance is for you to proceed with

 

              5               eminent domain.

 

              6                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Maybe it will make you

 

              7               know that we are serious.

 

 

              8                       MR. SOLBERG:  I know you are serious.

 

              9                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Treat us with some

 

             10               respect.

 

             11                       (Applause.)

 

 

             12                       MR. SOLBERG:  I am trying.

 

             13                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  You are not doing a

 

             14               good job with what you tell the press and the

 

             15               residents, you have to get honest.

 

 

             16                       MR. SOLBERG:  I am honest with you, we

 

             17               have nothing on the drawing board to do, and

 

             18               there is no Federal money coming that will

 

             19               change or, in any way, hurt your position.  We

 

 

             20               are willing, as we said at the beginning of

 

             21               the last negotiation, not to do anything to

 

             22               prejudice your position.  You don't do

 

             23               anything to prejudice our position.

 

 

             24                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Here is the deal, at

 

             25               this point the ball is in your court.  If you

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         137

 

              1               have anything to present to the Committee, you

 

              2               have been talking about it for months or

 

              3               years.

 

 

              4                       MR. SOLBERG:  Let's have a meeting.

 

              5                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  We had a meeting, you

 

              6               want to send some information in, send it in.

 

              7                       MR. GATTI:  First of all, I would like

 

 

              8               to say that tonight's bond ordinance is only

 

              9               authorization for us to go ahead and put the

 

             10               money up, put the money where our mouth is.

 

             11               There will be no tax increase unless the bond

 

 

             12               is actually drawn down which, as I said

 

             13               earlier, I am still hopeful we can come to an

 

             14               agreement and, Thor, I am willing to meet with

 

             15               you again and continue the process.  As Gerry

 

 

             16               said, it is the next step in the negotiation

 

             17               process.  Then, if this is not a matter of the

 

             18               bond to acquire the airport, that would

 

             19               require another action on behalf of this

 

 

             20               Committee.  We went on the record tonight

 

             21               saying we didn't want to buy the airport, we

 

             22               are still seeking the common ground.  We

 

             23               started to talk about it last August, and that

 

 

             24               is the open space around the airport.  Now we

 

             25               are faced with, and I have to tell you, Thor,

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         138

 

              1               I didn't say you said to me 5,600.  Five

 

              2               thousand, that is what you said.

 

              3                       MR. SOLBERG:  We talked about a lot of

 

 

              4               things, it was all in the context of negotia-

 

              5               tions, not a proposal.

 

              6                       MR. GATTI:  I agree, I would walk away

 

              7               and say maybe it is posturing on their behalf.

 

 

              8               What is the story?  But the point is I was

 

              9               willing to go on until Larry Berger said to

 

             10               me, "You are wasting my time, negotiations are

 

             11               over."  What am I to do with that statement?

 

 

             12               I said, "Let's talk", and he said he doesn't

 

             13               want to talk, he wasn't interested.  So I am

 

             14               willing now, I am going on the record to say

 

             15               tomorrow or Saturday, the schedule is tough,

 

 

             16               maybe Sunday, I would like to sit down and

 

             17               Suzie is on holiday, but I am willing to go

 

             18               back and start talking again, because I think

 

             19               the next step is more formalized negotiations.

 

 

             20                       MR. SOLBERG:  Let me tell you the

 

             21               danger of that, and I say this to everybody

 

             22               out here.  Whether you agree with what the

 

             23               Committee wants to do or whether you don't

 

 

             24               agree with what the Committee wants to do, you

 

             25               should at least agree that the people in town

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         139

 

              1               have the right to decide whether to take out a

 

              2               $22 million home equity loan.

 

              3                       MR. GATTI:  You had no problem asking

 

 

              4               for $36 million.  If I said we agree to the

 

              5               5,000 feet and $36,000 million, would you be

 

              6               standing here?

 

              7                       MR. SOLBERG:  The people in the town

 

 

              8               have the right to voice their opinion on

 

              9               whether or not to take out a $22 million home

 

             10               equity loan, as Mr. Gatti calls it.  The only

 

             11               way people in this town will have a right to

 

 

             12               vote is if they petition this Committee to get

 

             13               that right, and I urge everybody in town to

 

             14               participate in the petition, so at least we

 

             15               know that the people in town are establishing

 

 

             16               the money.

 

             17                       A VOICE:  Can I ask a question?  If it

 

             18               goes to public vote, will you do that?

 

             19                       MR. SOLBERG:  We are talking about the

 

 

             20               bond issue?

 

             21                       A VOICE:  Will you put in writing that

 

             22               you won't expand?

 

             23                       MR. SOLBERG:  It is good to have the

 

 

             24               colloquy.

 

             25                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  I understand.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         140

 

              1                       It is time to call the question.

 

              2                       MR. AURIEMMA:  Mr. Solberg, your

 

              3               sister, Suzanne, wrote a letter.  Would you

 

 

              4               like to read it into the record?

 

              5                       MR. SOLBERG:  Okay.  This is a letter

 

              6               written by my sister, Suzanne, to the Township

 

              7               Committee, and it is dated February 16th.

 

 

              8                       "As explained to you at our last

 

              9               Township meeting when I pleaded with you to

 

             10               postpone the second reading of your proposed

 

             11               bond ordinance, I will regretfully not be in

 

 

             12               attendance.  I am taking your suggestion and

 

             13               submitting a letter instead.  You are confused

 

             14               about your reasoning for the bond ordinance.

 

             15                       "Last year you withdrew the bond

 

 

             16               ordinance so that we could negotiate in good

 

             17               faith.  Now, in February, you are stating you

 

             18               need to pass this very same bond ordinance so

 

             19               that we can negotiate in good faith.  We

 

 

             20               believe the bond ordinance is totally

 

             21               unnecessary.  There is not a property in

 

             22               Readington Township that does not consider you

 

             23               to be a qualified buyer with financial

 

 

             24               reimbursements which you stated it is in this

 

             25               case.  Readington Township" -- there are a lot

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         141

 

              1               of typos here, I am not sure what this says --

 

              2               I am trying to read this.  "Readington

 

              3               Township has a longstanding history of

 

 

              4               purchasing land, either through development

 

              5               rights or fee simple.  We agree with what Paul

 

              6               Sauerland said last fall, the real reason for

 

              7               the bond ordinance is to put you one step

 

 

              8               closer to condemning our property.  This bond

 

              9               ordinance is not necessary any more than the

 

             10               hiring of legal counsel that specializes in

 

             11               eminent domain."  I am speaking of Mr.

 

 

             12               Rhatican who, I see, walked away.  There hs

 

             13               is, in the back.

 

             14                       "The professed purpose of sitting down

 

             15               as neighbors and talking seems to" -- I will

 

 

             16               stop with that paragraph.  The word

 

             17               "negotiate" by Webster's Dictionary means to

 

             18               confer and/or discuss a need to reach an

 

             19               agreement.  "We need to focus on the view to

 

 

             20               reach an agreement.  With outside professional

 

             21               help, we are confident we can negotiate

 

             22               successfully.

 

             23                       "As you admitted, the citizens of

 

 

             24               Readington Township do not want you to condemn

 

             25               our land.  They are adamantly opposed to

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         142

 

              1               taking private property and know the tax

 

              2               burden associated with such an adverse action.

 

              3               Please inform the public which specific

 

 

              4               sources you intend to seek reimbursement from

 

              5               if you use eminent domain.  We understand

 

              6               these entities are limited and may require a

 

              7               willing buyer/willing seller relationship as a

 

 

              8               prerequisite to this.  Real estate taxes in

 

              9               Readington Township are high enough, without

 

             10               adding tens of millions of dollars of more

 

             11               debt.

 

 

             12                       "Moreover, you are premature.  You are

 

             13               in the process of passing a bond ordinance for

 

             14               roughly $22 million, and from what it actually

 

             15               is, the DOT has an appraisal, and very quickly

 

 

             16               can arrive at the value of $18.5 million.

 

             17               Your two appraisals were at nine million, the

 

             18               NJ DOT recognized in April of '02 that this

 

             19               number was not accurate and adjusted the

 

 

             20               number upward of 22 million, which was as far

 

             21               as it comfortably could go.  The agreement on

 

             22               the sale called for another appraisal for that

 

             23               purpose.  The last appraisal in May of '03 was

 

 

             24               $42 million, and that is almost three years

 

             25               ago.  Again, every property owner in

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         143

 

              1               Readington knows land value has increased

 

              2               considerably over the last few years.  Please

 

              3               reconsider and table this bond ordinance.

 

 

              4               There is a solution out there as both the

 

              5               Hunterdon Review and Courier News editorials

 

              6               suggests.  We need to seek the help of a

 

              7               professional negotiator if we focus on the

 

 

              8               issues in our positions I am certain we can

 

              9               reach a compromise that we both can embrace.

 

             10               Thank you for your consideration, Suzanne

 

             11               Solberg Nagle."

 

 

             12                       A VOICE:  Gentlemen, ladies, I

 

             13               respectfully call for action on the ordinance.

 

             14                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  We are asking you to

 

             15               wrap it up, Mr. Solberg.

 

 

             16                       MR. SOLBERG:  I have one thought, to

 

             17               remind everyone of and Mr. Rhatican can talk

 

             18               about this a lot better than I can, but once

 

             19               the Town decides to go down the route of

 

 

             20               condemnation, there is no longer any control

 

             21               that anyone has on the value of the property.

 

             22               It will be determined by the Court.  Once that

 

             23               value is determined, the Township is obligated

 

 

             24               to pay it, and if it ends up at 60 million

 

             25               instead of 20 million, that means the Town is

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         144

 

              1               obligated.  Right now with the $22 million

 

              2               bond, we are almost at 75 percent bonding

 

              3               capacity.  If that number were to double, we

 

 

              4               would be at 100 percent bonding capacity.

 

              5               There is no room in the law to fix the crack

 

              6               in the road, and it is not necessary.  It is

 

              7               an expense that is not necessary.  I again

 

 

              8               urge everyone to give the right to your

 

              9               neighbors to have a vote in this, because I am

 

             10               not confident that everybody in town wants to

 

             11               spend even 22 million to take this property

 

 

             12               away from us.  Thank you.

 

             13                       MR. RHATICAN:  Can I respond to the

 

             14               point?

 

             15                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Certainly.

 

 

             16                       MR. RHATICAN:  Mr. Solberg mentioned

 

             17               the factor, he opined on the fact that once

 

             18               eminent domain goes to the Court, you lose

 

             19               control, is what he said, about the amount

 

 

             20               paid for the property or the value to be paid

 

             21               for the property.  I want to make two points

 

             22               so everyone understands, including the members

 

             23               of the Committee, understands the process a

 

 

             24               little bit better.

 

             25                       First of all, when an eminent domain

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         145

 

              1               matter goes to a court for the issue of value,

 

              2               it is left to a jury.  I think it was

 

              3               mentioned earlier that a judge decides what

 

 

              4               the value might be.  If there is a dispute

 

              5               among the parties, first it goes to what is

 

              6               called a Commissioners' hearing, and a panel

 

              7               of three Commissioners is appointed by the

 

 

              8               Court to hear proofs from both sides.  The

 

              9               panel of three Commissioners consists

 

             10               typically of two attorneys and a local real

 

             11               estate broker.  Generally, the attorneys are

 

 

             12               real estate attorneys familiar with the

 

             13               process.  That Commissioner, that panel or

 

             14               Commissioners' panel will make a decision as

 

             15               to valuation.  If one of the parties then has

 

 

             16               an opportunity to appeal from that, and

 

             17               ultimately if there is an appeal, it will go

 

             18               to a jury and the jury decides the value.

 

             19               There is a provision in the Eminent Domain Act

 

 

             20               that, in certain circumstances, it permits a

 

             21               condemning authority to go through that

 

             22               process and figure out what it would have to

 

             23               pay for the property, and if it deems that it

 

 

             24               is too expensive, it can back out at that

 

             25               point.  It doesn't need to proceed with the

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         146

 

              1               eminent domain or the taking if, in fact, it

 

              2               is determined that the evaluation exceeds what

 

              3               the party wishes to pay or the amount the

 

 

              4               condemning party thinks is reasonable for the

 

              5               property.

 

              6                       I wanted to make sure that that was

 

              7               clear for everybody.

 

 

              8                       MAYOR SHAMEY:  Thank you.

 

              9                       MR. SIMON:  Good evening, my name is

 

             10               Mike Simon, S-I-M-O-N, 22 Witherspoon Street,

 

             11               Whitehouse Station.

 

 

             12                       My background, I have 27 years in

 

             13               aviation, including 13 years in the Orlando

 

             14               Aviation Authority as senior project planner

 

             15               and director.  I  helped build and design

 

 

             16               (inaudible).  I am a member of Triple A

 

             17               Association of Airport Executives, I am also a

 

             18               member of ELTHAB Aircraft Owners and Pilots

 

             19               Association, and also have some stick time as

 

 

             20               a pilot.  I have flown in and out of Solberg

 

             21               many times.  I like the airport, I love

 

             22               aviation.

 

             23                       I listened to Mr. Solberg for 25

 

 

             24               minutes, and I didn't hear anything.  I heard

 

             25               words.  I saw lips moving.  But to respond

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         147

 

              1               directly to the issue at hand, I heard

 

              2               semantics.

 

              3                       The yardstick for measuring the

 

 

              4               matrix, the unit of measurement to determine

 

              5               the solution for this problem is very simple,

 

              6               if you want jets, allow a runway longer than

 

              7               3,800 feet.  That is about it.  Anything else

 

 

              8               that goes on at the airport will be generated

 

              9               from the business of the use of a runway of

 

             10               less than 3,800 feet.  Let the market drive

 

             11               that.

 

 

             12                       Also, in the future, as Mr. Solberg

 

             13               says, he can't commit to, as aircraft become

 

             14               more and more efficient, it will need longer

 

             15               runways.  There is one purpose in having a

 

 

             16               longer runway, and that is to have jets.

 

             17               Every single distance prop aircraft that

 

             18               exists today on the planet can take off on

 

             19               3,700 feet of runway.  Maybe not with full

 

 

             20               fuel for all of them, but the majority can.

 

             21                       I listened to the semantical

 

             22               statements, I didn't want it developed, but I

 

             23               want 500,000 square feet of development.  I

 

 

             24               don't want to expand, but my Master Plan I put

 

             25               in has an independent goal of 5,600 foot

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                                                         148

 

              1               runways.  And by the way, I have to have a

 

              2               runway protection zone in Hillcrest Park, so

 

              3               the Township needs to give that to me in an

 

 

              4