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October 4, 2021 · OPINION

Warrenton should reject Amazon data center plan

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By Jill Brown

I’m writing to express my concern over the purchase of 41.7 acres on Blackwell Road by Amazon Web Services Inc. Although no application for a data center has as yet been submitted, the purpose for this purchase is clear.

Why are we just now learning that the Warrenton Town Council passed an amendment back in August that allows data centers to be built with a special exception permit? Further, the land purchase was completed upon the signing of non-disclosure agreements; why was this necessary unless full knowledge of the details was to be kept from the citizens of Warrenton and Fauquier? It’s no coincidence that the timing of the council’s amendment and Amazon’s land purchase go hand-in-hand.

This non-coincidence is a clear signal that the town council already supports the approval of Amazon’s application, well before concerned citizens are given full details of what will ensue and well before any environmental impact has been assessed.

Data centers use billions of gallons of water, both for electricity generation and cooling. Energy usage per foot of flooring in data centers is 10 to 50 times that of commercial floor space (hence the comparison to Walmart construction is not apt.) The New York Times reports that data centers can take more power than a medium sized-town, and what is Warrenton, if not a medium-sized town? It's been estimated that data centers waste 90 percent of the energy they consume because they run nonstop, 24/7. This is a huge carbon footprint.

Further, the location of Amazon’s land purchase is also not coincidental. Reason and science tell us that it’s extremely unwise to zone for industrial use land that sits in a watershed so near the reservoir that is Warrenton’s primary water source. While this lake may be an ideal location for a data center that requires billions of gallons of water, Warrenton’s water supply is not unlimited.

Land here is frequently being sold, far too often, to developers, and these developers expect town tax dollars to pay for the infrastructure/roads they need. Between the developers being allowed permits and the added proposed data center permit, Warrenton will be hard-pressed in future to keep the small town country charm it-s known for.

The Amazon data center will NOT be good for Warrenton. The town council should reject the proposed use application.

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