The following text was sent out via email on March 22, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →
Much has happened in the weeks since the 4-3 Warrenton Town Council vote to approve the Amazon Data Center Special Use Permit (SUP). I want to give you an update on potential permit violations on the property and share concerns about proposals to build more data centers in Town.
Activity at Amazon Data Center Blackwell Site
Tree cutting activity at the Amazon site on Blackwell Road has attracted significant public scrutiny. Residents have written the Town and spoke about numerous concerns at citizen’s time on March 14, including:
- Violation of SUP condition 12, explicitly prohibiting access from Routes 17 and 29.
- Violation of SUP condition 19, requiring that the Applicant “provide a tree preservation plan at time of Site Plan that seeks to minimize land disturbance and maximize on-site vegetation.”
- The Applicant still lacks a land disturbance permit but appears to be disturbing the land with construction activity.
- The tree preservation plan that was originally submitted, was never updated to reflect Dominion Energy plans to provide energy to the site from an off-site substation.
- Clearing was seemingly conducted before April 1 to avoid a VDOT restriction on tree felling for the preservation of northern long-eared bats, which have been moved to the Endangered Species list.
- The Town’s apparent unwillingness to act on its right to enforce conditions and/or revoke the SUP, as outlined in SUP condition 25, to hold Amazon accountable for commitments it made in the SUP application.
We are concerned about the effects of these potential violations, and that the Town is undermining its own authority and the intent of SUP conditions put in place to protect the public and the environment.
The public deserves a detailed explanation, not the vague responses residents have been receiving so far from the Town. We are currently awaiting a Town response to our submitted comment letter.
More Data Centers in and Around Town?
Dominion Energy has not yet finalized how it will get power to the AWS site, but its preferred option would include a new substation at 615 Falmouth St. (a.k.a. the Old Wire Factory) in the Town, where the landowner has already advertised their land for data center development. The selection of that site would very likely lead to the proliferation of more data centers nearby.
One such site is Maple Tree Farm, which is being advertised for data center development and has a request for incorporation into the Town of Warrenton as of last month. If the Town approves a boundary line adjustment, the landowner plans to apply for a rezoning and Special Use Permit to build data centers on the property.
These proposals raise many of the same questions related to the water, energy, visual and noise impacts that arose with the AWS data center. And importantly, it raises a big question about the future of Warrenton: How many more data centers is the Town going to approve?
PEC will be following discussions about utility routing and future data center sites closely and will keep you informed as we find out more information.
Thank you for remaining engaged and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
Kevin Kask, AICP
Fauquier County Field Representative
540-347-2334 ext. 7046