CHURCHILL, Pa. (KDKA) — The Churchill Borough Council held its first public hearing on the possibility of Amazon opening a distribution center in the borough.

If the proposal goes through, the old George Westinghouse Research and Technology Park would be transformed into an Amazon distribution facility. The center would operate 24/7 and be twice the size of the Monroeville Mall.

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Monday’s online meeting featured back-and-forth banter between the developer, the borough solicitor and the attorney of a local group protesting the plan.

Hillwood Development Company represents Amazon. The company claims an Amazon distribution center would bring millions in revenue and create 1,000 jobs starting at $15 an hour with health benefits and 401(k) options.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“One of the reasons that we are able to attract so many people to join Amazon is that our number one priority is positivity and a safe working environment,” said a Hillwood Development Company representative. “We are committed to operational excellence here at Amazon.”

The attorney for Churchill Future questioned an engineer about current traffic volumes since the studies were done before the pandemic.

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“If you haven’t actually done any counts since before March 2020, how could you possibly know whether the traffic counts today are higher or not?” said attorney Dwight Ferguson.

“PennDOT has been tracking traffic volumes across the roadways and interstates. And they have a graphic updated to share amongst the trafficking engineering community. Their tracking has indicated the volumes are 85 percent of what they used to be. Their metrics indicate volumes are still lower,” said an engineer for Hillwood Development Company.

Before the meeting, a small group of protestors gathered outside the borough building. They were disappointed that the meeting was not in person. The borough declined, citing coronavirus concerns.

Some residents are worried about air quality, noise, traffic, tree removal and more.

“Until it’s done, until there is nothing we can do, I’ll be out here every day,” said Nicole Phillips. “There will be signs in my yard. I will speak to whoever will speak to me. I’ve been emailing Amazon.”

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Monday’s hearing was continued until Thursday. It will start at 6 p.m. Click here for more.

Jennifer Borrasso