A Texas-based data center developer announced Wednesday it plans to file a rezoning pre-application with Fauquier County to build up to 1.4-million-square-feet of data centers in Catlett, according to a news release.
In October, Headwaters Site Development LLC signed a “Memorandum of Co-Development and Profit Sharing” agreement with Catlett Station LLC, the owner of the 66-acre industrially zoned property, located on the east of Catlett Road (Route 28, just north of Gaskins Lane). The two partners are proposing to construct multiple data centers on the property, dubbed the Catlett Station Project.
The county’s zoning ordinance prohibits the construction of data centers on industrially zoned properties. But the developer said it intends to seek approval from the Board of Supervisors to rezone the site as a business park “to unlock data centers as an allowable use."
Headwaters said it also plans to request a special exception for an aboveground storage facility.
“After reviewing the Fauquier County’s comprehensive plan and zoning codes, our team believes that the Catlett Station Project meets the criteria of responsible data center development,” Mike Lebow, co-founder and partner of Headwaters, said in the release.
The release did not say who the end user would be.
Lebow has a similar profit-sharing agreement with Blue Rock I LLC, which purchased a 47-acre property in Vint Hill – between Vint Hill Road and Vint Hill Parkway – approximately half a mile from the OVHcloud data center facility.
Joel Barkman, president of Catlett Station LLC and co-founder of the Catlett-based construction company Golden Rule Builders, Inc., previously applied to rezone the Catlett property from industrial to business park in 2021, but the application stalled.
Golden Rule Builders' offices are located next to the property adjacent to the site.
If approved, the site would be the second property to be rezoned as a business park after the supervisors approved a rezoning of 234 acres in Remington, between Lucky Hill and Remington Roads. The property, initially zoned residential, allows for up to six data centers totaling 1.8 million square feet.
Several data centers also exist at the Warrenton Training Center property, but those are not subject to county zoning laws since the property is owned by the federal government.
In its pre-application filing, Headwaters offered three separate concept designs for how the development could look.
Each option exhibits between three and five data centers surrounded by a tree buffer. The southern edge of the property would be dedicated to "electrical infrastructure."
Barkman argued in the release the rezoning would create “substantial tax revenue for our citizens” and have “less of an impact on our roads.”
Headwaters claims the project would not only create "significant tax revenue" and generate "well-paying jobs," but also have minimal impact on public services and utilities.
Fauquier County Commissioner of Revenue Eric Maybach told FauquierNow the combined tax revenue generated by all the data centers in the county, including those at the training center and the OVH facility, was approximately $5 million in fiscal 2023.
Last month, the Warrenton Town Council approved Amazon Data Services’ special-use permit to build a 220,000-square-foot data center on its property at the intersection of Blackwell Road and Lee Highway. The facility is expected generate close to $1 million in tax revenue for the town annually and as much as $2 million for the county.
According to the release, Headwaters said it plans to meet with county staff in the coming weeks to discuss the project, including access to the site, landscaping, building height limitations, on-site wetland mitigation, energy needs and sound limitations.
Lebow said his company would “strive to set conditions for the project that addresses community concerns, while also enabling a successful project for an end user.”
Cedar Run District Supervisor Rick Gerhardt declined to comment on the proposal.
Actually, the Amazon/Blackwell data center is nowhere near my home. My opposition to that site is based on 3 issues: (a) There are over 600 residences within a half mile of the site which are very likely to be afflicted with incessant noise and vibration, 24/7, 365 days/year; (b) the 220,000 sf data center warehouse will loom over the town of Warrenton, dominataing the gateway entrance to town for residents and visitors alike; (c) the Mayor and 4 Town Council members engaged in a conspiracy with Amazon, to shut out citizens, ignore incomplete information, deceive us, keep information hidden, redact FOIAs, sign NDAs, steamroll the Planning Commission, and generally undermine the principles of democracy. It was and is a travesty.
These data centers - which are supposed to be SO helpful to society, are doing nothing but completely RUINING our lifestyles & the quality of our countryside. When oh when is someone with half a brain going to suggest a moratorium against them.
Here's a thought: Let this Texas based developer put his data centers in Texas. Lots of empty space, and it's not like there's anything there worth conserving.
Good. We need more tax revenue.
Right! Keep the guvaments fat, happy, and flush with cash - they really no how to care for the general welfare of the people!
I'm so tired of FauquierNow censoring comments - just what is your problem? Free speech, free thought? The original comment was never actually published, though it was well within the guidelines. Anyway, my comment was originally in response to this one by John1234, in which he said: Good. We need more tax revenue. To this, I ask, do we really need more revenue for bloated governments that have proven they don't actually work for the citizens?
OK, I'd like to know where all the Conservation Easement people are in this takeover of farmland? It's either developers or data centers is this how this county is going to play out! Well, everyone complained about developers, why aren't they complaining about data centers? Does anyone think this keeps our county's RURAL charm?
Most of us who have fought hard against the Amazon data center on Blackwell have emphasized we are not against all data centers. While Amazon was/is an outrageous bully, and the Blackwell site is one of the worst possible places for a data center, this Catlett developer is behaving the opposite of Amazon -- and the site might even be a good place for a data center. It is zoned industrial, and is next to railroad tracks. I don't think there is any loss of farmland. As it stands now, this Catlett site could be developed, by right, into in industrial use that would generate a lot of traffic and other problems. Let's learn more about the proposal, especially where the power will come from and what nearby residents think. The tax revenue could be far in excess of the crummy Amazon/Blackwell project, and could go a long way to paying and keeping good teachers in the Fauquier school system. On the other hand, if Amazon is going to come in and operate it, we should fight tooth and nail against it. Amazon is NOT a good neighbor, and Amazon cannot be trusted -- except to be a bully.
With all due respect Ms. Burbank, data centers are UGLY with all the generators and blank walls and concrete. We don't mind paying the teachers extra if it stops this kind of exploitation of the land. Once that building is there it's gone forever.
That's rich. Not against all data centers...just those near YOUR houses. I fail to see how the Blackwell site is the worst possible place for a data center. It is surrounded by busy roads and what are essentially highway on/off ramps, next to a car dealership, and across the street from garage-type buildings, a gas station and a large strip mall. Yes, Amazon is a bully and a horrible company, but nobody will stop using them. And yes I know AWS and the Amazon site aren't quite the same, but where did they get the money to branch out into data centers from?
The site in Catlett is also across the street from a gas station, but the surrounding area there is almost all farms and is far more rural than the "worst possible site/rural character destroying" Blackwell road location. I'm sick of people shouting about and lecturing people on equity, but then when it comes down to it, they are perfectly happy to shove anything they don't want to the poor side of the county. Put it in Catlett. Those people don't have the money or know-how to get lawyers to fight it.
Personally, I don't THINK I mind the data centers in either location. For Blackwell Road, instead of trying to block Amazon maybe get some concessions. It would be pocket change for them to, for example hire local artists to paint murals on the big blank slabs that are the data center's walls, and maybe put in a walking trail with exercise stations around the perimeter. Instead of just screaming about how this is a horrible location for the data center because the top of the roof will be visible on your commute to work, maybe try something reasonable like this? As for the Catlett one, my first reaction is that I would like more of a buffer, and I don't understand why the main entrance is straight onto 28 instead of Gaskins. It seems like it would be better to utilize the existing side road for the entrance/exit instead of adding more turns onto 28, which is busy and already backs up sometimes. I would also like to see turn lanes built there at the developer's expense.
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