Over 100 people from Culpeper and area gathered at Kildee Farms on September 7 to hear from nine local groups about how the data and solar projects on the horizon could affect the county and its future.
Speakers included Culpeper Alliance for Balanced Growth spokesperson Andrew Gutowski, Chuck Ladner of Friends of Culpeper Battlefields, Julie Bolthouse of the Piedmont Environmental Council, Susan Ralston of Citizens for Responsible Solar, and Culpeper County Supervisor Susan Gugino, who represents the district of Stevensburg.
“There are other issues surrounding these projects that our elected officials and the citizens of Culpeper need to fully discuss, especially as we update the comprehensive plan,” Gutowski said. “This upcoming town hall will give us the opportunity to discuss the future of Culpeper.
Ralston gave a 30-slide presentation at the meeting, which showed maps of data centers and large-scale solar projects, including CloudHQ Data Center, Maroon Utility-Scale Solar, and Attotek’s proposed new data center.
In April, AttoTek, Inc. submitted an application to rezon 50 acres of commercial services and 38 acres of rural light industrial in the district of Stevensburg to allow for the development of a data center, which is a authorized use in the technological corridor of the region.
The Culpeper County Planning Commission reviewed the application at a June 8 meeting.
According to his application, Martin intends to market real estate developers for the development of up to three data center structures.
Phase A of construction would consist of a single-story structure with a maximum area of 337,500 square feet. Phase B would consist of two single-story structures totaling approximately 945,000 square feet. The proposed buildings will be approximately 45 feet high, including water tanks and rooftop equipment.
An approximately seven-acre electrical substation would also be constructed.
According to Ralston’s presentation, the location of the center’s transmission line is unknown.
The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors will vote at a later date on whether to approve the rezoning application.
Earlier this year, Woodbridge-based development company Marvell Developments LLC, an Amazon subsidiary, submitted the application for 20420 Germanna Highway – currently the location of Magnolia Equestrian Center LLC – to construct two buildings, totaling over of 400,000 square feet.
During a nearly four-hour meeting on April 5, supervisors voted 4-3 to approve a request to rezone more than 230 acres of farmland on Highway 3 in Stevensburg into light industrial, paving the way for Amazon Web Services to build a data center.
Ahead of the March 28 vote, nearly 100 people braved the cold to visit some of Culpeper’s most historic sites in a bid to see the damage that could be done if a proposed rezoning request by Amazon passes.
“The visit is designed to provide perspective to assist the Culpeper Board of Supervisors as they consider the requested zoning change from agriculture to light industry to accommodate construction data centers alongside some of the historic assets. Culpeper’s Most Important and Scenic Areas”, the tour invitation read.
Despite their efforts, the request was approved.
According to Ralston’s presentation, Northern Virginia has the greatest concentration of data centers around the world, with an ever-growing market.
“Power shortages in Data Center Alley (N. Virginia) and the need for more land are driving Culpeper’s development,” Gutowski said. “There are proposals for two large-scale solar projects covering nearly 3,000 acres of farmland and over 3 million squares of proposed data center projects.
There are proposals for two large-scale solar projects covering nearly 3,000 acres of farmland and more than 3 million square feet of data center projects on hold.
The land use issues extend beyond the actual footprint of these projects and extend to the necessary power lines and transmission lines, which are expected to impact the county’s landscape.
Once a data center is approved, Dominion Virginia taxpayers pay for it, the presentation continues. Additionally, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) has the final say in the placement of transmission lines, which often result in different routes than Dominion or other premises. groups recommended.
Citizens for Responsible Solar, which co-hosted the town hall, also opposes the site plan for Greenwood Solar, which would cover 1,000 acres of farmland in Stevensburg with a solar power plant.
Greenwood Solar I, LLC received a Conditional Use License Approval from the Board of Supervisors for this facility on October 2, 2018. The property is located along Route 661 (Blackjack Road) and Route 663 (Batna Road) in the magisterial district of Stevensburg.
In accordance with section 20 of the zoning ordinance, the planning commission will determine whether the proposed development meets the criteria for site plan approval prescribed in section 20.
The Planning Commission had a meeting on the bid on September 14, but the discussion and recommendation was not available at press time.
In terms of solar power, there is a better solution, Ralston suggests.
“Siting solar installations on rooftops, parking lots, landfills or other previously disturbed land like “grey fields” or “brownfields” is preferable to developing on open spaces or agricultural land valuable.”
The town hall was organized by The America Battlefield Trust, Brandy Station Foundation, Citizens for Responsible Solar, The Culpeper Alliance for Balanced Growth, Culpeper Battlefield Tours, LLC, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Friends of Culpeper Battlefields, Journey Through Hallowed Ground and The Council environment of Piedmont.