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Residents hesitant as Amazon moves ahead with plans for 634,000-square-foot warehouse

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    CHURCHILL, Pennsylvania (KDKA) — Out on the new Southern Beltway in a remote part of Findlay Township is Amazon’s new 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center.

Stretching several football fields long, it is now the largest building in Allegheny County.

As part of an extensive distribution network, the online retail giant would like to build a similar facility on the abandoned 133-acre Westinghouse Research Complex off the Parkway East in Churchill. But some in the borough say the facility has no place in a residential community.

“There is no neighborhood in any part of this country that I can think that would say bring on Amazon and put it in the middle of our houses, our neighborhood, our streets, our kids. You don’t do that,” said Kate Carrigan Hill of Churchill

But in partnership with Texas-based developer Hillwood, Amazon is moving ahead with plans to build the 634,000-square-foot warehouse and blacktop much of the rest of the property to accommodate 1,700 cars and 49 loading docks for tractor-trailers — which residents say will be coming and going around the clock.

“It’s absurd that they’re going to use our residential streets to go in and out of this facility 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Steve Landay of Churchill.

“Amazon sees the same thing that anyone who moves into this neighborhood sees. It’s a great community that has close-to-freeway access,” said Churchill Borough Council President Jay Dworin

Since establishing its first fulfillment center in the city’s West End, Amazon has dramatically expanded its footprint in the region. In addition to the West End and Findlay Township, Amazon has purchased properties on McLaren Road, in Lawrenceville and North Versailles for so-called last-mile delivery operations.

But while Churchhill residents here have focused on the negatives, the development offers the borough some strong positives as well — not the least of which is developing a property that had sat fallow for nearly two decades without generating any tax revenue.

“Putting things back on the tax rolls, addressing a dilapidated building, I think we understand that space, the benefit of jobs to the region,” said Dworin. “The financial benefits to the school district.”

That’s 1,000 jobs and an estimated $700,000 a year in taxes to the borough, plus another $2 million to the struggling Woodland Hills School District. Still, Dworin says the borough is engaged in a lengthy review to determine if it is the right fit for Churchill.

“There are going to be really amazing positive and really amazing negatives,” he said. “What you have to do is balance them. That’s our job.”

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