St. Joseph County officials in Indiana voted 8-1 last week to rezone almost 640 acres of agricultural land for industrial use for a planned data center.

Earlier this year, the land was reported to have been bought by Razor5, a shell company, to build a data center. Though linked to AWS, this has not been confirmed by the company or the council.

St. Joseph County Plans Indiana
The agricultural land due to be rezoned – St. Joseph County Indiana

At a recent council meeting, St. Joseph County Council reclassified the land from an “agricultural district and planned urban development” to an “industrial district.”

The council agenda states that the rezoning has been allowed for the use of “a new business-tech campus” over a total of 914 acres.

Located near Huckleberry and Gordon roads in Mishawaka, the developers need the city to extend the sewage and water systems before construction work can begin.

Despite the majority vote, the proposal faced backlash. Council Republican Joe Thomas, whose district covers the area, was the only councilman to vote against the rezoning.

According to WNDU, project opponent and resident Steve Francis said: “Agricultural land is not reversible. You’re turning green fields into brownfields. In this case, an agricultural land designation to industrial zoning, and I really object to that because they’re calling this a corporate business park, which sounds innocuous.”

Dan Caruso, a member of the county’s redevelopment authority in New Carlisle, said the rezoning would push the industrial development beyond the 2,000-acre limit recommended in the county’s 2002 comprehensive plan for land use.

This follows the recent development of a $3 billion EV battery manufacturing facility in New Carlisle being built by Samsung and General Motors.

Bill Schalliol, executive director of economic development in St. Joseph County, told WNDU: “The things we have seen with this owner and other property owners that have benefitted from the recent land sales. They have gone in and reinvested, not only land in SJC but also opportunities to expand farming opportunities and to keep older farms active.”

Schalliol added: “We think this is a good area for development in the country.”

The land currently houses a solar farm and a barn that is hired for events.

The land and farm were originally purchased in 1867 by Notre Dame founder Father Sorin. It was farmed by Holy Cross brothers for more than a century and the land was harvested to feed faculty and students on the campus seven miles away.