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February 28, 2018

County planners support data center proposal

Everyone I speak to is enthusiastic about the data center coming. . . . I think it will be good for our small town.
— Tina Younis, cattle farmer
Public Hearing
• Topic: Rezoning application for data center on 234 acres along Lucky Hill Road just northeast of Remington.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27.

• Agency: Fauquier County Planning Commission.

• Action: Planning commission unanimously recommended approval of rezoning

• Length: 13 minutes.

• Speakers: Five, with 4 supporting; one criticized the application but appeared to take no position.

• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton.

• Applicant: Alberta, Canada-based Point One Holdings Inc.

• Landowners: Remland LLC (Bill and Bob Springer of Fauquier) and VCA LLC of Alexandria.

• Proposed buildings: 6, plus an onsite substation to provide electricity to project.

• Under roof: 1.5 million to 1.8 million square feet square feet, with data center structures ranging from 240,000 to 310,000 square feet each.

• Estimated investment: $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.

• Employment: 120 to 180 permanent, full-time jobs; 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs.

• Next: Board of supervisors, which has final authority, will conduct March 8 public hearing.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After brief public hearing Tuesday night, Fauquier’s planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the proposed data center just northeast of Remington.

Alberta, Canada-based developer Point One Holdings Inc. seeks rezoning approval to construct up to six data-center buildings on 234 acres between Remington and Lucky Hill roads.

Fauquier’s board of supervisors, which has final authority, will conduct a March 8 public hearing on the application.

The proposal represents a potentially enormous tax revenue windfall for the county.

Point One estimates its investment at $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion. 

The company expects to build 1.5 million to 1.8 million square feet of space over five to seven years to serve one or multiple users.

If constructed as proposed, the land, structures and some mechanical systems would generate almost $31 million in tax revenue during the first six years, according to Fauquier’s commissioner of revenue and Economic Development Department.

When equipped with servers and other taxable improvements, the data centers also could produce millions of dollars more in tax money for Fauquier, according to county officials.

Additionally, rezoning the data center site from residential to “Business Park” would erase millions of dollars in potential public service costs if the permitted 199 single-family homes got built at the edge of Remington. 

Only five people, including Point One Vice President Colin Clish, spoke during the commission’s 13-minute hearing.

“Everyone I speak to is enthusiastic about the data center coming,” Tina Younis, who owns a 22-acre cattle farm near the project site, told the commission.

Like others, Ms. Younis believes the data center would give Remington a boost, creating jobs and the kind of economic activity that will help fill the town’s vacant Main Street storefronts with restaurants and shops.

The Remington Technology Park proposal also would generate up to 180 permanent, high-paying positions and up to 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs, according to Point One.

“I think it will be good for our small town,” Ms. Younis said.

“I think it’s a good revenue generator” for the county and the state, said Dave Zorger, president of Chantilly-based Project Solutions Group, whose company has overseen the development data centers around the world.

Citing neighboring Loudoun County’s experience, Mr. Zorger said the demand for data centers in the region will continue to expand.

Fauquier has a chance to capitalize on that lucrative market, the New Baltimore resident suggested. “The data center growth is here to stay.”

Loudoun has more than 75 data centers, with 10 million square feet of such space in use, according to that county’s economic development department.

Based on Loudoun’s calculations, the data center “industry” generates more than $150 million a year in taxes, or almost 10 percent of its operating budget.

John McCarthy of the Warrenton-based Piedmont Environmental Council said the organization supports the use and proposed location.

Mr. Clish of Point One met at length with PEC to discuss the project, Mr. McCarthy said.

He described Mr. Clish as “very forthcoming” and open to discussing PEC’s concerns about the proposal.

Point One expects to address most of them, including stormwater management, noise associated with back-up generators and a plan to handle potential fuel spills from those generators, he said after the public hearing.

“We’re all trying to work for the betterment of the community,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Lewis Ray of Midland criticized the proposal because it fails to specify the kind of data centers contemplated.

Mr. Ray, who told the commission he has decades of experience developing data centers for the federal government and the private sector, also expressed concerns about what would become of the proposed structures should new technology render data centers obsolete.

“I’m all for it,” Planning Commissioner John Meadows (Lee District) said moments before the advisory panel recommended approval of the rezoning application.

“This is a clean business” that will generate tax revenue for the county and “fit” Remington’s economic development vision for the town, added Mr. Meadows, whose district includes the data center site.

He also believes the commission's support of the application sends a "message" that Fauquier "is open for business."

Point One has a contract to buy the data center property from Fauquier residents Bill and Bob Springer of Remland LLC and VCA LLC of Alexandria. 

“Obviously, we’re pleased with the results,” Bob Springer said after the planning commission’s decision. “I think it’s a good thing for the county and the commission agrees.”

Board of supervisors Chairman Chris Butler (Lee) attended planning commission’s public hearing Tuesday.

“Amen,” Mr. Butler said of the favorable recommendation.

“I wasn’t surprised” by the public hearing’s small turnout and positive citizen comments, he said. “I’ve been all over the district. No one has anything bad to say about it.”

The supervisors also on March 8 will conduct a public hearing on a related rezoning application.

The Springers and their Alexandria-based partner own the undeveloped 197-lot Fox Haven subdivision, which lies about a mile and a half north of the data center site.

They contend the proposed Remington Technology Park’s success depends on the supervisors’ dropping or reducing the $2.7 million cash “proffer” tied to the Fox Haven subdivision.

That cash proffer — about $14,730 per dwelling — applies the new home lots created as a result of the property’s 2003 rezoning from rural to residential use.

Under a revised Fox Haven proffer, the developer would pay Fauquier $14,730 per home. But, after the county issues occupancy permits “for a minimum of 200,000 square feet of data center space,” the cash proffer would drop to $3,072 per home.

That represents the amount Fauquier could expect to receive under Virginia’s new proffer law, which took effect on July 1, 2016.

Application documents filed with county:

Application SOJ RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Application ConceptRenderings RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Application ProfferStatement RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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