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Virginia County Considers New Data Center Amendments

The Spotsylvania County Planning Commission is looking at amending its rules around data centers as they relate to the Comprehensive Plan. The region has recently become a popular place for businesses to set up server farms.

data center
(TNS) — As data center development interest grows, Spotsylvania County officials are working on Comprehensive Plan amendments that incorporate the giant tech warehouses into its development concept.

The county's Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday evening for proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan concerning data centers. The Comprehensive Plan serves as a guide for the county's vision of its future.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Holbert building.

The spread of data centers, which are server farms for cloud computing housed in large buildings filled and with computer equipment, continues apace in Virginia, with Spotsylvania recently becoming a popular target for proposed developments.

According to a county staff report, the amendments include the addition of data centers as a target industry; the establishment of "data center land use potential within and outside of the periphery of the Primary Development boundary"; and adding "data center-centric" land-use policies geared toward providing access to public water and sewer outside the county's development boundary.

The amendments would add the county's interest in keeping data centers inside the development boundary and close to electric transmission lines. But the staff report also notes a lack of property inside the development boundary, meaning there likely will be interest outside the zone. County officials want to keep data centers within one mile of the boundary.

Other facets of the amendments aim to minimize noise impacts from data centers; include roof designs that "incorporate heat island reduction elements"; "encourage alternatives to public water-based cooling systems"; discourage private water wells; and promote the use of onsite renewable energy to ensure data centers do not interrupt local electric service.

If the Planning Commission supports the amendments, the measure would advance to the Board of Supervisors, which would hold a public hearing before voting.

While the county continues working on its Comprehensive Plan for data centers, developers already are seeking rezoning for developments in the county.

Last month, tech giant Amazon filed four rezoning requests for developments that could include several million square feet of data centers. Another company also filed a rezoning request for data centers in an unrelated development.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning that changed 314 acres between U.S. 1 and Interstate 95 in Thornburg from agricultural to industrial to allow the building of a 2.9-million-square-foot "corporate technology campus."

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