Proponents of the Atlanta BeltLine project, an initiative to turn a disused railway line in Atlanta into a 22 mile public walking path, have hit out against companies trying to build data centers along the scenic route.

Project representatives have submitted legislation which - if approved - would make it very difficult to build large data centers near the BeltLine (a map of the route is viewable here).

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Facebook's Atlanta data center could be affected

Toe the line

The legislation, first reported by Saporta Report, made it very clear the project isn't interested in data center proposals for the area stating: “Data center uses are incompatible with the purposes and intent of the BeltLine.”

If this legislation is approved by Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units, Zoning Review Board and ultimately the Atlanta City Council in May, it could have big implications for one of the largest data center providers in the area, Facebook.

The social network and advertising giant is currently developing a $750 million data center campus which would be close enough to the BeltLine to be affected by future legislation.

If approved, the legislation would require data centers that are 500 meters (1,640ft) from the BeltLine to be no larger than 300,000 square feet (27,900 sq m), and any data center over 150,000 sq ft (14,000 sq m) would require a special permit to be built.

Facebook’s site in Staton Springs, Newton County, will consist of two data centers totaling 970,000 square feet (90,000 sq m), making it too large for the requirements set out by the legislation.

There would be other requirements for data centers to be built in the area; fences of razor wire or barbed wire are to be prohibited, the sides of buildings that face the public have to be dressed up by a variety of means, such as artwork or changes in texture and color, according to the legislation - this is something both Google and Colt have done with their data centers, although there are other ways to be beautiful.

As well as this, mechanical equipment for new buildings has to be located at a location least visible to the public. It must also be concealed from a public right-of-way or park by appropriate fencing or plant material.

DCD reported last month that the BeltLine project was under threat because of a planned QTS data center that would overlap with the public walking path.