March 3, 2021

The development of the former Westinghouse R&D campus will take place, whether it is Hillwood and the distribution center or another commercial enterprise.  To minimize the negative consequences, every resident must invest time to be educated in key aspects of any proposal, as well as be familiar with procedures of the borough in dealing with these proposals.

Rules and timelines for development requests

The Hillwood distribution center is a monstrosity that should not be built on this property, but dealing with a professional organization like Hillwood with expertise and resources, including financial, may result in approval of their proposal whether we like it or not.

This whole process has specific requirements and timelines which must be legally followed by both the developer and the borough officials.  It applies to all proposals, from building a new garage to a distribution center.

The planning commission must come up with rules that minimize the most outrageous aspects which they will then be presented to Council to act upon.    That is why the first PowerPoint presentations are to the planning commission.  Council itself is the final arbiter and is obligated to act in the best interest of the borough, so they will define what they will also consider necessary rules for the developer to follow, and may endorse or reject what the planning commission recommends.

Because Council at that stage is essentially acting as a judge, they must listen to the actual presentation of the developer with an open mind and not pre-determinations.  Does the project adhere to the borough requirements or not, If yes, they will then be free to execute their project, subject to any additional rules, if any, the council decides is in the best interest of the borough?

It is important to note that the clock is ticking.  By law, a decision must be made within 90 days so that a developer is not strung out with no decision, although the revised proposal by Hillwood extended the deadline by a month.

We hope to elaborate on the process in a later discussion.

Consequently, resident attention and comments should be directed to the zoning and planning groups and not at council members.  The borough council is obligated not to decide until both the developer and planning commission make their final positions known to the council in April or May.

Resources to be a better-informed resident

To provide commentary based on data and research is a complicated and time-consuming process.  We at this site must increasingly depend on fellow residents to contribute by sending their comments and resources so that they can be published for all residents to read.

To be educated presupposes knowing where to find the relevant information.  In this tab on the Churchill Future website, we shall begin to post links to resources around concerns of residents as well as the procedures required in government.

The two most relevant concerns at this time seem to be the massive changes to the topography and traffic/Infrastructure, as well as the procedures and rules around discussions, so the primary attention will be to address these concerns first. Anyone who locates relevant data, please send it so that we can see where it fits and publish it.

We also welcome ideas on what else needs to be examined and made available to residents.

The first sub-links will be around the traffic situation and will initially direct you to Pennsylvania DOT studies.  The first study will address challenges of the Parkway East from downtown to Monroeville so that you can see what the state already knows as bottlenecks and substandard designs related to the Parkway East.

The 2nd sub-link will be to the state of Pennsylvania rules on zoning and conditional use of the property.  The borough is obligated to follow certain formats and understanding these will help each resident see where we are and why at each stage of the process.

We make it a point, not cherry-pick data, so wherever possible, we give you a backlink to the original source.  Do assume what anyone states is actually true and not misleading; always fact check.

Some of this data is in legalize and not easy to understand, so where we have time, we’ll try to interpret and highlight the most pertinent statements.  If we get something wrong, please correct us immediately.

1—a direct link to the Churchill borough with the definition of the distribution Center requirements as amended 11-16-2020.

This essentially gives Hillwood a green light to produce every kind of building it wants, whether it is appropriate or not.  If you have time, use the back arrow and read the rest of the ordnances.

2—links to the state of Pennsylvania website for Zoning and conditional uses.

It is important to know the constraints that the borough is working under in responding to the Hillwood proposal.

3–Link to the PA DOT study of the Parkway East deficiencies.

This is important because the infrastructure to support the level of traffic that one of the largest distribution centers in all of North America will generate does not currently exist. The Parkway East off-ramp west from the fast lane and the short on and off-ramps off at Holland do not meet modern design requirements.

Murray Bilby
2424 Churchill Road