County officials in Virginia’s Culpeper County have removed tax incentives in one of its ‘technology zones’, a month after a data center proposal there was denied.

First reported by the Star Exponent, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors eliminated the Brandy Station Technology Zone by a unanimous vote this week.

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– Culpeper

The decision to remove the technology zone removed existing tax incentives for technology businesses to develop on the land.

In a letter to the Culpeper Board of Supervisors, Sarah Parmelee, Culpeper land use representative for the Piedmont Environmental Council, said the technology zone was ‘incentivizing data center development despite the unsuitability of the location’.

She said: “We believe that the County’s resources are better utilized encouraging development in locations that have the proper infrastructure and community support.”

The removal is likely the final chapter on a data center that had been proposed on the site. David Martin, president of software development firm AttoTek, Inc last year filed to rezone around 88 acres at his property along Brandy Road and Stevensburg Road in Brandy Station. The land is currently zoned Rural Area (38 acres) and Commercials Services (50 acres) in the area’s development plan. The application seeks to rezone it to Light Industrial, under which data centers can be developed under the project name Brandy Station Technology Park.

However, Martin withdrew the plans in October 2022 after the planning commission unanimously recommended the denial of the rezoning plan. The application sought to develop more than 800,000 sq ft of data centers across three buildings if granted permission.

The proposal had faced opposition from local residents due to concerns over noise, construction traffic, the site’s adjacency to the new state park, and the potential requirement for a new transmission line.

Martin told the Star Exponent he had taken a step back from data centers to focus on developing the 50 acres of multi-family residential on the eastern edge of the property.

“However, we do feel the remaining 250 acres of the property provides a tremendous opportunity for data centers due to its unique size, topography, and layout and look forward to having this discussion in the public domain,” Martin said.

Created in 2005, there are four other Technology Zones in Culpeper. The Lover's Lane Technology Zone was also modified to delete parcels that are now located within the Town Corporate Limits. The McDevitt Drive Technology Zone, recently acquired by CloudHQ, remains; the company plans to develop a build-to-suit campus spanning up to 2.1 million sq ft and 60MW.

Northern Virginia is the world’s major data center market, but Culpeper County has largely eschewed the trend. There are four Equinix data centers in Culpeper County (CU1-4) that opened around 14 years ago.

AWS was last year granted permission to rezone 243 acres of land as a precursor to developing a data center campus consisting of two buildings spanning up to a combined 430,000 square feet (40,000 sqm). Northern Virginia land-use attorney John Foote, representing Amazon, previously said the county’s existing technology zones lack adequate power for today’s data centers.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning 4-3 in April 2022, despite the county Planning Commission previously voting to recommend denying the application. However, local residents are now suing county supervisors hoping to have the decision overturned.

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