Jan. 10 Town Council Public Hearing on Amazon Data Center

The following text was sent out via email on January 6, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

Warrenton Substation on Old Auburn Road, a substation like this could be located at the Old Wire Factory property, in close proximity to several Ward 2 neighborhoods. Photo by Denise Schefer

Dear Supporter,

I hope you enjoyed the holidays and wish you the best in 2023! I am reaching out today with an update on the Amazon data center issue.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Warrenton Town Council will conduct a public hearing on the proposed Amazon data center at the gateway to Warrenton on Blackwell Rd. This comes after the Town Planning Commission heard the special use permit application on Dec. 20 and issued a recommendation of denial

This is a new public hearing, so anyone who has already spoken at any of the Planning Commission hearings can, and should, sign up to speak again. The Town Council will ultimately issue a ruling on this proposed special use permit, so we really need a large showing of community residents to come out and demonstrate strong community opposition to this proposal! Please consider joining us. We also encourage you to submit written letters to the Town Council, as well as attend and speak at the January 10 hearing. 

Town Council Public Hearing
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 @ 6:30 p.m.
21 Main Street, Warrenton, VA 20186

Reasons to Deny

Ask the Town Council to vote to deny the special use permit application and consider the numerous issues brought forward leading to the Planning Commission’s recent recommendation of denial:

1. Noise remains an unresolved issue in this application. Although the Zoning Determination Letter issued in December provided some clarity on how to interpret the Town Noise Ordinance, Amazon has been unable to demonstrate compliance or submit a credible noise study. It has instead offered conditions that require the company merely to “diligently pursue mitigation” and lack any consequences for ongoing, persistent violations of the noise ordinance. Most recently, Amazon has “committed” to measure compliance when the building is 10%, 50%, 80%, 90%, and 100% operational, but with an undefined period of time to correct violations, during which residents will continue to suffer these noise impacts, and with provisions to cease violating operations that are of questionable enforceability. (The term “operational” may present an issue since a partially occupied data center could still be deemed “operational.” Instead, noise impacts would more accurately be measured at different stages of the data center’s data processing capability.)

Using his own model, Dr. John Lyver, a retired computational scientist from NASA whose help was enlisted by the community, found that the data center would exceed the applicable noise levels contained in the Town’s Zoning Determination Letter along the entire property line, by substantial amounts, at the majority of Town-designated frequencies and would continue to be audible at a distance as far as 2 miles away.

Residences within 2 miles of the proposed data center. Image provided courtesy of Dave Gibson from ARCGIS.com

2. It has yet to be determined where energy infrastructure needed to serve the site will be located, such as the substation and potential transmission lines needed for Dominion’s preferred route option. Although the State Corporation Commission has yet to decide on Dominion’s proposed route options, either option could put infrastructure in place that would accommodate more data centers in Town. This includes the Old Wire Factory at 615 Falmouth Street (Dominion’s preferred substation location) and other parcels currently in Town and within the Town’s proposed boundary line adjustment where landowners have indicated interest in data center development.

Properties where landowners have indicated interest in data center development. Map by Watsun Randolph/PEC. View full-size on Flickr.

3. The proposal will have a significant visual impact on the Town’s eastern gateway. As demonstrated by the balloon test in September, Amazon’s submitted illustrative elevations, and our own GIS analysis, the data center will likely be seen from a number of different vantage points throughout Town, even with the screening elements that have been proposed.

Viewshed analysis across Warrenton for the data center site. The darker orange areas are those of the highest visibility. Map by Watsun Randolph/PEC. View full-size on Flickr.
View from Northbound Route 17, just past Route 15/29 ramp. *Image for illustrative purposes only. Rendering of potential data center size/location based on test balloon locations. Photo by Marco Sanchez/PEC

4. There is overwhelming opposition to this proposal. While over 100 spoke in opposition to the proposal during the Planning Commission review of the application, only two stakeholders spoke in support of the data center, both with vested interests in multiple data centers being built in Town. Given the overwhelming majority of Town and County residents who oppose this proposal, the Town Council should vote NO on the special use permit!

Thank you for taking the time to come out and make your voice heard this upcoming Tuesday, Jan. 10. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions leading up to the public hearing!


Kevin Kask, AICP
Fauquier County Field Representative
540-347-2334 ext. 7046