INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The effort by Tinicum Township to block a Philadelphia International Airport expansion plan that would level 72 homes in the Delaware County municipality has hit another roadblock.

A federal appeals court has ruled against Tinicum in a case in which the township cited errors in the Federal Aviation Administration's environmental-impact analysis and also contended that the expansion was not consistent with public agency development plans for the area.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued the ruling Friday.

Both sides said Tuesday that they were continuing to negotiate in hope of reaching a settlement.

The township will file a motion requesting a rehearing of the case, said Barbara Lichman, a lawyer representing Tinicum in the case.

Sam S. Auslander, a township solicitor, described the Tinicum Board of Commissioners' reaction as disappointed.

The ruling is the latest in court cases involving the airport expansion, to be completed in phases through 2025. The plan includes lengthening two runways, adding a fifth, and building a new commuter terminal. About 80 businesses, including a UPS facility, would be moved.

The UPS facility would be relocated to the Lester section of Tinicum, resulting in the demolition of the homes.

Delaware County, the township, and neighbors have been working to block the airport from buying the property needed for the expansion.

The FAA approved the city's expansion plan in January 2011.

In August, a federal court ruled that Philadelphia could buy the land for the expansion. That ruling was appealed a month later to the Third Circuit. A decision has not yet been reached.

Despite the litigation, airport representatives and Tinicum and Delaware County officials have worked behind the scenes to negotiate a resolution that would relocate the facility and save the homes.

"The lines of communication are open," Auslander said, "but Tinicum's effort is always geared toward a resolution that is protective of the residents of the township."

Airport officials said they were pleased with the court's ruling and confirmed the effort to reach an agreement.

"We remain in discussions with all parties involved," they said in a statement, "to minimize the impact on the community and to also retain UPS operations at Philadelphia International Airport."

Contact Kristin E. Holmes
at 610-313-8211 or kholmes@phillynews.com.