For decades, developers have eyed a sixty-acre site on Carpenter Rd. in Pittsfield–one of the few major pieces of open land left in the rapidly developing township. The planning commission rejected multiple requests to change its industrial zoning to residential or retail (including one recently from Menards). But in December, the commission approved a site plan for an Amazon warehouse/distribution center.

The online giant is projected to close out 2021 with about $470 billion in sales, two-thirds higher than 2019. It’s already added 450 new facilities in the past two years to handle pandemic orders and advance its goal of one-day delivery.

Township supervisor Mandy Grewal says the approval came after “a lengthy negotiation process. Our biggest concerns were the traffic and its effects on our community, as well as our commitment to diverse land use in our township.”

Amazon agreed to re-orient the building, preserve more than four acres of wetlands and woodlands, and take steps to prevent cut-through traffic. A report by township planning consultant Benjamin Carlisle also describes a “geofence between Cloverland and Morgan Road, to prohibit trucks from using these routes. However,” Carlisle adds, “it is presumed employees in their personal vehicles will use these roadways.”

Grewal couldn’t estimate the number of workers on site, but it will have 1,136 parking spaces for vehicles and operations. “We seriously hope that the employees will be local residents,” she says. “We have repeatedly made the point to large and small businesses in our area to hire local, and we hope Amazon will do that.”

The company estimates that twenty-one semi-trucks will deliver packages between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Throughout the night, employees will sort them for delivery. Then, between 9:50 a.m. and 11:10 a.m., 230 vans will head out to deliver packages as far north as Howell, south to Dundee, east to Ypsilanti, and west to Brooklyn.

The warehouse will also use Amazon Flex–nicknamed “Uber for deliveries.” Depending on the season, Amazon expects as many as sixty independent drivers to arrive in their personal vehicles between 4:30 and 6 p.m., to deliver packages that arrived after the vans left on their rounds.

Grewal says she hesitates to estimate the financial impact on the township tax base, since the state legislature is considering new laws regarding the municipal tax codes–“but there are no abatements,” she says. “They will pay 100 percent in property taxes.”