AWS is planning to buy more than 40 acres of land in the North Virginia town of Warrenton, but only if the town changes local rules to allow data centers to be built there.
During a Warrenton Planning Commission meeting this week a change in local regulation was proposed that would allow data centers to be built in the town in Fauquier County, Virginia. The same meeting revealed AWS is hoping to buy land for a data center if the regulation change is made.
Data centers are not permitted within the town of Warrenton, however a zoning ordinance text amendment presented by town staff Tuesday night proposes to allow the use in an industrial district with a special use permit.
The text amendment would allow data centers with town council approval of a special use permit, and add requirements around power lines, water use, and other building design elements.
Planning commissioners voted unanimously to table for 30 days the decision on whether to add data centers to the list of allowable uses in industrial districts in order to have more time to consider the issue and to gather more information.
Ever increasing data center zones
The Fauquier Times reports that Northern Virginia land use and zoning attorney John Foote told the commission that his client – Amazon Web Services – has a contract to purchase property owned by Weissberg Investment Corp.
The deal would see Amazon buy 41.7 acres located behind Country Chevrolet near the intersection of U.S. 29 Business and Blackwell Road. The land is one of only two parcels that could be suitable for a data center, according to town staff. The other is a 28.8-acre former Sivaco wire factory at 615 Falmouth St.
“I have the authorization to put in an application” as soon as the town makes a decision on whether to allow data centers, Foote said.
He added that a Warrenton data center would necessarily be smaller than those being built in Northern Virginia because of the limited acreage that is available, but that Amazon “is very interested in Warrenton.”
Commissioner James Lawrence said that while he used to work at a data center and ‘doesn’t have anything against them’, he questioned their value to the town in its goals of providing more jobs and housing over the next 20 years.
“A data center doesn’t provide that. This is where I struggle.”
Weissberg Investment Corp (WIC) develops and manages a diversified real estate portfolio in the Greater Washington, DC region.
Amazon already owns a large number of data centers in Northern Virginia, including nearby Haymarket and Manassas, as well as Ashburn, Chantily, and McNair.