Data center businesses in the northeast region of the city of Alpharetta, Atlanta are opposing a rezoning request that would allow townhouse development.

Attorneys representing General Electric Company, E-Trade Financial and Carter Validus have filed letters with the city’s planning commission opposing Sharp Residential’s housing request.

Sharp Residential planning application
Sharp Residential planning application – Alpharetta Planning Commission

Families or facilities?

The data center industry is far more familiar with cases where residents oppose the building of data centers, or even attacking those already in operation. In Paris last year, an Interxion data center was threatened with closure after protests from neighbors about noise and diesel fuel storage.

That protest was struck down, but recent protests have blocked an AT&T application to build a data center in Loudoun County, Virginia, and increased regulation in the district.

In Alpharetta, Joshua Hill, an attorney representing GE, wrote to planners expressing “serious concerns” about the application, AJC reports

“Residential usage in this area is inconsistent with the current commercial use and will likely cause a serious increase in operational and other risks to GE,” said Hill, adding that GE currently leases a 180,000 sq ft (16,722 sq m) building at Windward Concourse Hill, and the proposed town homes would be located too near to the diesel fuel supply tanks and backup generators, creating “significant noise” for residents.

E-Trade Financial, which leases property at 1650 Union Hill Road, adjacent to Sharp Residential’s potential property, said: “There are no benefits to the proposed residential development being located in this area, and rezoning the property… is likely to lead to conflict between the existing commercial occupants and future residents.” 

Attorney David Herr added: “The information kept on this property is highly confidential and our concerns relate to cyber security and physical security.

“Data centers contain confidential and sometimes classified information that could be attacked or lost, due to temperature changes or failure of water and electricity supply for even seconds. Emergency systems are in place to prevent this. We are concerned about the impact of dense residential town homes on water and electricity. Further, their nearness to our facility and the ease of viewing or trespassing onto our property from the proposed road is of great concern.”

Attorneys for Carter Validus, which bought a facility in February, continued: “The property was developed as a data center district in 1990s, and building homes in the vicinity poses environmental and security issues, such as people viewing confidential equipment, children trespassing and the exposure to diesel fuels needed to operate generators.”

Sharp Residential hopes to build 82 three-story townhomes of approximately 2,600 sq ft with prices ranging from $500,000 to $550,000. The decision will go before the Alpharetta Planning Commission later today.