John Foote Town Council hearing Amazon data center application Jan. 10, 2023

John Foote, Amazon's legal counsel, speaks to the Town Council during the public hearing for the Amazon data center on Jan. 10.

Amazon Data Services has filed a motion asking the Fauquier County Circuit to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the Warrenton Town Council by Citizens for Fauquier County and 10 Warrenton residents who are seeking to overturn the approved Amazon data center.

Amazon's motion for dismissal is the most recent turn in a year-long saga between the town and activists opposing the data center.

Initially, Amazon was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. However, in April, the tech giant petitioned the court to join as a party, arguing it had a vested interest in protecting its interests, specifically the data center.

On May 5, Amazon's legal team, led by John Foote of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, submitted a motion to the court arguing that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing and urged the court to dismiss the suit. Over the last year, Foote attended virtually all town meetings related to the special-use permit.

Amazon contended several of the plaintiffs lack standing because they "do not own or occupy property in close proximity to Amazon's property." Moreover, Amazon claimed Citizens for Fauquier County cannot bring a lawsuit on behalf of its members unless each member has been individually harmed or has a specific legal claim.

Amazon’s attorneys also disputed several other claims made by the complainants.

For example, the plaintiffs allege that Amazon violated the town's zoning ordinance by not providing all the necessary “information, data, and studies” for the Planning Commission and Town Council needed to make “conclusive evaluations” regarding the proposed data center.

Amazon claims it provided all the "relevant" information that was needed for the town to evaluate its request for a special-use permit. Still, the company argued missing items is not a legitimate legal basis for voiding the permit.

The plaintiffs also allege the potential noise traffic, emissions and runoff from the data center could have a negative impact on their “health safety and welfare,” which they claim violates the “spirit” of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Amazon countered these allegations were “speculative, erroneous” and that any potential impact on residents is “subject to the Council’s legislative judgment.”

Moreover, Amazon claimed the law does not mandate that a municipality's Comprehensive Plan adhere to its zoning ordinance.

Lastly, on the issue of noise – a constant point of contention between Amazon and town residents over the last year – the plaintiffs allege the conditions placed on Amazon by the town do not address how the company plans to comply with the town's noise ordinance and other requirements, such as "potable water.” (The council allowed the use of potable water for the initial filing of the cooling system but not for general use).

According to the special-use permit conditions, the Amazon data center can only be granted a Certificate of Occupancy if the facility complies with the town's noise ordinance. The company must also engage a third party to conduct an annual noise test to ensure ongoing compliance with the ordinance.

The plaintiffs argue the town did not follow the zoning ordinance stipulations requiring Amazon to install mufflers on its generators to "reduce emissions and noise.”

During a Town Council work session held in January, Amazon representatives told councilmembers the company planned to mitigate noise from the generators through the installation of condenser fan silencers, compressor wraps and a sound wall.

Nevertheless, Amazon's legal counsel contended the special-use permit conditions “need not specify” how the company should meet the noise ordinance. 

In a written statement, Kevin Ramundo, president of Citizens for Fauquier County, said the recent filings by Amazon were “fully expected,” and they “remain confident in the strength of [their] suit to overturn the town’s approval of the data center.”

“CFFC, with ten Warrenton residents, filed this suit to prevent the serious harm that the proposed data center’s construction and operation will cause to the Plaintiffs and because the town ignored Virginia law and its own zoning ordinances and comprehensive plan in granting a special use permit to Amazon,” Ramundo told FauquierNow. “CFFC remains committed to preventing that harm by subjecting the town's decision to the fullest scrutiny of the law.”

(3) comments

Jeff Allen

Talk to anyone who works up at the Warrenton Training Center about the noise from the data center that was built there.


I am fine with the data center but object to Amazon's intervention in our political process. We are ready to read the messages we are entitled to read -- we paid for the phone and its service and the time of the Town Manager who used it. Stop hiding information from our good citizens.

Jill B

Totally agree. The issue is between the town council and CFFC. Amazon should not be allowed to bully its way in to the case.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.