Culpeper, Va., Planners Hold Off Rezoning Tract for Data Center Campus

The issue was tabled by request of county staff for technical reasons and to allow the Virginia Department of Transportation to further study traffic implications.

by Donnie Johnston, The Free Lance-Star / December 15, 2017

(TNS) — The Culpeper County Planning Commission on Wednesday night tabled for 30 days a request by Power Grid LLC to rezone approximately 100 acres along McDevitt Drive from rural to light industrial in order to build a data center campus similar to Terremark.

The facility, according to Michael Armm, would consist of three structures of approximately 290,000 square feet each and employ about 150 workers in high-paying jobs.

The issue was tabled at the request of county staff because of several minor technical reasons and to allow the Virginia Department of Transportation to further study traffic implications.

Of primary concern, according to county planner Sam McLaren, is the intersection at McDevitt Drive and State Route 3, which is already heavily used during rush hours.

Armm said the facility will generate minimal traffic, adding the property is not contiguous to the intersection. Nevertheless, Power Grid is willing to work with the town and county to place a traffic circle there, Armm said.

Armm added that the land in question, part of the old Kay Anders property, is a perfect location for a data center campus because there is plenty of fiber optic cable available, a Rappahannock Electric substation is located on McDevitt Drive and the town water plant is less than a mile away.

Germanna Community College and Terremark are also just up the street.

Attorney Butch Davies, also representing Power Grid, said that Frank Turnage Drive, which splits the property, would need to be moved so as not to divide the campus.

That project would be done at Power Grid expense. Turnage Drive, built with revenue sharing funds, was supposed to provide a second entrance into Germanna, but construction stopped short of the college when funds ran out. Right now it is essentially a dead-end road.

Armm said that Power Grid would take advantage of tax incentives the county now has in place for such companies. He said that in the long run, taxpayers would benefit significantly from lower personal property and real estate taxes as well as the quality jobs.

Armm and Davies had no objection to the 30-day delay.

In other action, the Commission voted 8-0 (chairman Sanford Reaves was missing for personal reasons) to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the county code be amended to allow 100-foot utility pole “microspots” to allow Virginia Broadband to provide high-speed internet service to homes that are in difficult areas to reach.

“The need for internet overrides the [location and aesthetic concerns],” said commissioner Cindy Thornhill.

The meeting was the first for new commissioner Paul Bates.

©2017 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.