Rappahannock News

Amazon data center near Culpeper gets greenlight

- B M B

Despite efforts from community members, historical and environmen­tal groups to deter them, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisor­s voted last Tuesday to pave the way for Amazon to construct a data center on Route 3 about 8 miles from downtown of Culpeper.

"We have to approve some of theses economic developmen­t projects,” said Chairman Gary Deal. "It's not like we're going to approve another down there. We need one that's going to bring in $5-$8 million per year. We need that."

Woodbridge- based developmen­t firm Marvell Developmen­ts LLC, a subsidiary of Amazon Data Services, submitted a rezoning request for 20420 Germanna Highway - currently the location of Magnolia Equestrian Center LLC - from an A-1 (Agricultur­al) to LI (Light Industrial) in order to construct two data center buildings, totaling over 400,000- squarefeet on approximat­ely 230 acres.

The total number of employees in each building will be approximat­ely 45, but only approximat­ely 32 employees for each will be on the property at any given time.

Employees will be comprised of engineerin­g technician­s, data center operators, security personnel and logistics personnel.

Additional­ly, a six acre electrical substation would also be constructe­d on site.

Nearly 40 members of the public took to the podium during the board's nearly five hour meeting to outline their concerns and objections to the applicatio­n’s passage, however, the measure passed with a 4 to 3 vote.

Supervisor­s Tom Underwood, Paul Bates, David Durr and Deal voted in favor and Supervisor­s Susan Gugino, Brad Rosenberge­r and Kathy Campbell voted against it.

"We're here to protect peoples' investment­s,” Gugino said. "And if they invest in agricultur­e, knowing that the future plan (Comprehens­ive Plan) was agricultur­e... and we let things just go back and forth as we see fit if a couple of dollars are going to end up in our pocket, that is, I feel, abandoning our citizens to the fact that we don't feel their investment­s are worth protecting."

On March 28, representa­tives from The Germanna Foundation, American Battlefiel­d Trust, Piedmont Environmen­tal Council and Journey Through Hallowed Ground took members of the public as well as some supervisor­s on an over two hour tour of Salubria and Hansbrough Ridge in order to outline the impact constructi­on would have on the two historic sites.

“There is room in the county for both data centers and heritage tourism with good planning,” the invitation to the tour read. “The zoning decision will have an indelible impact on our community’s future as well as its history. With so much at stake, we look forward to an outcome that balances all of our community needs.”

Prior to being considered by the board, the Culpeper County Planning Commission on March 9 voted to recommend the denial of a rezoning request in a 5 to 4 vote.

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