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March 6, 2018

Supervisors to OK data center rezoning Thursday

If all six data centers get built at the proposed Remington Technology Park, the county would collect about $31 million in taxes during the first six years. Equipment housed in the centers would generate millions more in taxes for Fauquier.
Trading homes for high-value commercial-industrial development, that’s a no-brainer for me. And the benefit to the tax base is a good thing.
— Supervisor Chris Granger
Public Hearings
• Topics: Rezoning application for data center on 234 acres along Lucky Hill Road just northeast of Remington; application to amend cash proffer on Fox Haven subdivision at Route 28 and School House Road near Bealeton.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8.

• Agency: Fauquier board of supervisors.

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

• Data center applicant: Alberta, Canada-based Point One Holdings Inc.

• Proffer amendment applicants: Fox Meadows Investment Company LLC (Bill and Bob Springer of Fauquier County) and GGFS/Foxhaven LLC of Alexandria.

• Landowners: Remland LLC (Bill and Bob Springer of Fauquier) and VCA LLC of Alexandria; Fox Meadows Investment Col LLC (Bob and Bill Springer) and GGFS/Foxhaven 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.
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Staff Journalist
Barring surprises, Fauquier’s board of supervisors this week will approve the data center proposed just northeast of Remington.

The board will conduct a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8, on the proposed Remington Technology Park at the Warren Green building in Warrenton.

Alberta, Canada-based Point One Holdings Inc. wants approval to rezone 234 acres along Lucky Hill Road to construct up to six data center buildings totaling 1.5 million to 1.8 million square feet.

Pointe One put its investment at $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.

The company believes it can complete the project within five to seven years, if not sooner.

The buildings, the mechanical systems to support them and site development improvements alone could generate almost $31 million in tax revenue for the county during the first six years, according Fauquier’s Economic Development Department and commissioner of revenue.

Equipment in the buildings also could produce millions in taxes annually for Fauquier.

Rezoning the proposed site from residential to “Business Park” would eliminate 199 home lots and the cost of public services demanded by homes that would get built there.

“Trading homes for high-value commercial-industrial development, that’s a no-brainer for me,” Supervisor Chris Granger (Center District) said. “And, the benefit to the tax base is a good thing.”

Revenue produced by the data center would help foot the bill for Fauquier’s growing budget needs, explained board Chairman Chris Butler (Lee), whose district includes the data center property.

“It could have a huge impact on revenue,” Mr. Butler said.

The proposed site appears well-suited for a data center because of its proximity to existing infrastructure — two electrical power plants and fiber optic cable — and compatible commercial and industrial uses, including Dominion Power’s solar field, Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott) said.

Wiping out 199 home lots would save Fauquier millions of dollars in public service costs required of homes that would get built there, Mr. Trumbo added.

The data center project also could produce plenty of revenue for Fauquier, he said.

“For all of those reasons, it’s a good thing.”

The Remington Technology Park also could create up to 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs and 180 permanent, “highly skilled and well-paid, full-time jobs,” according to the developer.

After a brief public hearing on Feb. 27, the county planning commission unanimously recommended approval of Point One’s application.

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

The Springers and their Alexandria-based partner own the undeveloped 197-lot Fox Haven subdivision at Route 28 and Schoolhouse Road near Bealeton. The subdivision lies about a mile and a half north of the data center site.

The board on Thursday also will conduct a public hearing on their request to reduce the $2.7 million cash “proffer” tied to that undeveloped subdivision near Bealeton. The planning commission has no role in the matter.

A board majority — Mr. Butler, Vice Chairwoman Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall) and Mr. Granger — probably will support that application to reduce the Bealeton proffers.

The Fox Haven proffers — $14,730 per dwelling — apply to 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.

The landowners initially wanted the $2.7 million cash proffer extinguished.

That troubled Ms. McDaniel, who worried that eliminating the proffer under the circumstances could set a dangerous precedent.

“I feel a lot more confident” about the revised proffer amendment “than what I saw originally . . . . That makes me feel we’re both in this together.”

“There’s a ‘rational nexus’ ” that justifies approval of the proposals, because “they both have the same landowners” and data center revenue quickly would far exceed the per home reduction in Fox Haven’s cash proffers, Supervisor Granger said.

Therefore, “it’s not precedent-setting” to link the data center and Fox Haven decisions, he said.

“It’s case-by-case for me,” Mr. Granger explained. “It comes down to dollars and cents. . . . . Ultimately, we’re looking out for the taxpayers in the county.”

But Supervisors Trumbo and Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) remain skeptical about the Fox Haven proffer amendment.

Undecided as of Friday, they worry approval of the Fox Haven proffer amendment will pave the way for other landowners to seek similar relief.

“I’m concerned about the precedent it sets,” Mr. Gerhardt said.

“I have reservations,” Mr. Trumbo said.
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