Airport expansion could land in court

May 27, 2009 3:59:40 PM PDT
Expansion plans of the Philadelphia International Airport will apparently end up in court and the plaintiffs would be both Tinicum Township and Delaware County.Something you might not know two-thirds of the airport is not in Philadelphia, most of it is actually next door in Tinicum Township, Delaware County.

The airport has signaled it wants to grow and is eyeing 230 more acres in Tinicum. Tinicum says such as encroachment would cost it dearly, it and the county are going to court.

If the airport builds a new east-west runway along the river it would have to move the big UPS facility to the west, that's on the 230 acres.

Tinicum officials blasted the expansion Wednesday claiming it would devastate the township by displacing thousands of workers and forcing 300 residents or 7-percent of the township's population out of their homes.

"It still has old hometown feel, it would tear it apart. We're losing a bit of Americana that's not going to come back if we destroy it now," said Michael Messina, Tinicum Twp. Commissioners President.

To keep that from happening the township is turning to a law written during the early days of aviation, the 1920's. Its claim is Philadelphia must get permission from both the county and township before it could buy land in Tinicum to expand an airfield.

"A city of the first class cannot acquire land with the consent of Tinicum Township and without the consent of the county," said John Whelan, Delaware County Council Vice Chair.

Along the targeted street residents were skeptical the expansion can be stopped.

"It's going to come eventually it's just a matter of time," said Kathy McGovern.

The city of Philadelphia had no comment about the lawsuit but in the past has said the expansion would create thousands of jobs and reduce airport delays. Critics vow to fight arguing instead of building more runways here some Philadelphia flights should move to smaller and regional airports in Allentown and Delaware, taking the pressure off Tinicum.

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