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April 7, 2022

Amazon data center in Culpeper gets greenlight

Woodbridge-based development firm Marvell Developments LLC, a subsidiary of Amazon Data Services, submitted a rezoning request for 20420 Germanna Highway -- currently the location of Magnolia Equestrian Center LLC -- from an A-1 (Agricultural) to LI (Light Industrial) in order to construct two data center buildings, totaling over 400,000-square-feet on approximately 230 acres.
By Maria Basileo
For FauquierNow.com

Despite efforts from community members, historical and environmental groups to deter them, members of the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pave the way for Amazon to construct a data center on Route 3 in Stevensburg.

"We have to approve some of theses economic development projects,” said Chairman Gary Deal. "It's not like we're going to approve another down there. We need one that's going to bring in $5-$8 million per year. We need that."

Woodbridge-based development firm Marvell Developments LLC, a subsidiary of Amazon Data Services, submitted a rezoning request for 20420 Germanna Highway -- currently the location of Magnolia Equestrian Center LLC -- from an A-1 (Agricultural) to LI (Light Industrial) in order to construct two data center buildings, totaling over 400,000-square-feet on approximately 230 acres.

The total number of employees in each building will be approximately 45, but only approximately 32 employees for each will be on the property at any given time.

Employees will be comprised of engineering technicians, data center operators, security personnel and logistics personnel.

Additionally, a six-acre electrical substation would also be constructed on site.

Nearly 40 members of the public took to the podium during the board's nearly five-hour meeting to outline their concerns and objections to the application’s passage. The measure passed with a 4 to 3 vote.

Supervisors Tom Underwood, Paul Bates, David Durr and Deal voted in favor, and supervisors Susan Gugino, Brad Rosenberger and Kathy Campbell voted against it.

"We're here to protect peoples' investments,” Gugino said. "And if they invest in agriculture, knowing that the future plan (Comprehensive Plan) was agriculture ... and we let things just go back and forth as we see fit if a couple of dollars are going to end up in our pocket, that is, I feel, abandoning our citizens to the fact that we don't feel their investments are worth protecting."

On March 28, representatives from The Germanna Foundation, American Battlefield Trust, Piedmont Environmental Council and Journey Through Hallowed Ground took members of the public as well as some supervisors on an over two-hour tour of Salubria and Hansbrough Ridge in order to outline the impact construction would have on the two historic sites.

“There is room in the county for both data centers and heritage tourism with good planning,” the invitation to the tour read. “The zoning decision will have an indelible impact on our community’s future as well as its history. With so much at stake, we look forward to an outcome that balances all of our community needs.”

Prior to being considered by the board, the Culpeper County Planning Commission on March 9 voted to recommend the denial of a rezoning request in a 5 to 4 vote.
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