Editorial

EDITORIAL: Amazon Coming to Prince George’s or Not?

Rumors are swirling in Prince George’s County that online giant Amazon may be moving into the majority Black jurisdiction.

A proposed site plan scheduled to be reviewed Thursday, July 18 provides for a 4 million-square-foot fulfillment center with nearly 1,800 employees and that will operate 24 hours a day.

The plan labeled Westphalia Center in Upper Marlboro is proposed by Duke Partnership Limited Corp. of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The company, also registered as Duke Realty, headquartered in Indianapolis, has one major tenant on its properties: Amazon.

Some residents in the Westphalia neighborhood are concerned a round-the-clock business would bring traffic, noise and possibly pollution to a tract of land they believe would be better suited for restaurants and other businesses that open and close during normal hours.

Concerns were also raised when the District Council, which consists of County Council members that review land-use and zoning matters, decided to add the definition this year of a merchandise logistics center to go into a mixed-use transportation-oriented development zone.

Bradley Heard, an attorney and activist who posts blogs about transit-oriented development in the county, called the move “rogue zoning.”

The Planning Commission must now decide whether that’s true and ensure it listens to residents’ concerns. Some residents suggest a better location is the Landover Mall site near FedEx Field due to its proximity to Interstate 95. The 78-acre tract in Westphalia is about three miles south of Interstate 95.

A business such as Amazon, if it does move into the county, can attract other businesses which can boost property values, as well as increase commercial and sales taxes.

A divide between a national retail business and homeowners won’t always bring harmony, but it must be done in a way that balances the concerns of tax-paying residents with the economic goals and objectives of county leaders.

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