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URGENT: Mega Sized Data Center on Goose Creek

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by OSimpson, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    Please consider to send an e-mail to our Supervisors to Deny the Approval of this data center project.

    The Board of Supervisors’ Transportation and Land Use Committee has moved plans for a 750,000 data center complex right on Goose Creek closer to approval and the vote will take place on January 18th, 2018, 6:30pm.

    Many Reasons to Stop the Approval:
    • County staff does not recommend an approval for this project.

    • Communities like Broadlands benefit from having less density, more mature green space in its surrounding areas, especially towards western Loudoun. This is part of what makes living in Loudoun's suburbs desirable.

    • Although 70 data centers have been built by-right, it is also obvious that they have changed the look and feel of our county forever, and it should not spread more and more by rezoning the existing available land. 30 more to come.

    • Years of overdeveloping, has put the County on a desperate position for finding revenue to pay for services and that has created the pressure to make excessive efforts to bring the data center industry to Loudoun's suburbs today.

    • This land is located in the Transition Zone where the density is 1 house per 10 acre. Re-zoning will allow a data center to be built right up against the Goose Creek."

    • A decision to approve True North Data would set a bad precedent and undermine faith in the Comprehensive Plan revision process that is underway in Envision Loudoun. It would establish the tone for what can happen in the Transition Area now and into the future.

    • It is located directly on Goose Creek, just upstream of the public drinking water intake. There are moderate and severely steep slopes on the site that raise concerns about stormwater runoff, erosion and sedimentation.

    • The number of data centers operating in Loudoun County stands at about 70. By 2018, Loudoun could be home to more than 100 data centers. There are available data center sites, but it's not big enough for this mega-sized project. But, the County can better place these type of businesses along Rt. 28 and around Dulles Airport where it's better fit.
    • The Piedmont Mafic Barren: A Rare but Endangered Treasure Right : is found on this site and it includes a rare species found in the ecosystem type include the globally vulnerable Trifolium virginicum (Kates mountain clover), present at the Loudoun site, and Phemeranthus piedmontanus (piedmont fameflower), known from only six sites in the world. This special, unique ecosystem is now imperiled by pressures from quarrying, road construction, development, and invasive species. Virginia is broadly divided into five physiographic provinces. From east to west, these are the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, and Allegheny Plateau provinces. The landform, geology, and plant community types define the character of each of these regions in much the same way that historic buildings and architectural districts define the distinct character of cities and towns. Loudoun County, of course, is in the Piedmont province. Destroying the plant communities that make the Piedmont unique, such as the Piedmont Mafic Barren in Loudoun, degrades the essence and character of the Piedmont province.
    true_north_data_parcel_google_earth_500x.jpg GooseCreekPhoto1.jpg GooseCreekPhoto3.jpg
    You can watch the heated Board meeting discussion about this project.

    Who is wants to approve this project:


    Suzanne M. Volpe, Algonkian District
    Ron A. Meyer, Broad Run District (Broadlands)
    Matthew F. Letourneau, Dulles District
    Kristen C. Umstattd, Leesburg District
    Koran T. Saines, Sterling District

    E-mail addresses to contact them:

    suzanne.volpe@loudoun.gov
    ron.meyer@loudoun.gov
    Matt.Letourneau@loudoun.gov
    Kristen.Umstattd@loudoun.gov
    Koran.Saines@loudoun.gov

    Form Letter to consider using or write your own.

    Who is strongly opposing it:
    Phyllis J. Randall, Chair
    Ralph M. Buona, Vice Chair, Ashburn District
    Tony R. Buffington Jr., Blue Ridge District
    Geary M. Higgins, Catoctin District (project is located in this district)
     
  2. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Data Centers provide almost $200,000,000 in tax revenue to the county.
    At $8,000,000 per penny on the tax rate, that means without them the tax rate would be 25 cents/$100 higher.
    So let's see, last year at a tax rate of $1.125, I paid $7285 in real estate tax.
    At a non data center tax rate of $1.375, my bill would have been $8904.
    Go data centers!! Keep 'em coming.
     
  3. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    I guess for some - money is everything. For others, there is a price we have to pay for "quality of living". Is there an expectation that the data centers are here to stay forever? Or who cares what happens in 10 years. There is a price for everything - including being greedy.
     
    KTdid and Cheryl Looper like this.
  4. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Yes, I do agree LCPS is extremely greedy with our tax dollars. Which is why we need the data centers to pay them.
    Data Centers have provided over 3500 jobs in the county, require little from the county for services, generate very little traffic, and provide a significant amount of revenue.
    With the cost to construct them and the world's increasing demand for more and more data, even as technology will continue to shrink the amount of physical space needed, they aren't going away in 10 years. Or 20 years. Or 30 years, etc.
     
  5. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    -Why is a data center being considered in our Reservoir Protection Area?

    -Why would anyone allow a data center in a watershed area already degraded by the Greenway toll road, massive power plant, water treatment facility, and an existing data center which also did not match zoning?

    -How many thousands of gallons of diesel fuel in how many tanks will be stored on site?

    -What is the County's course of action in the event of an oil spill?

    -What are the hidden costs of more industrial development in our watershed, such as more chemicals to treat our drinking water?

    -Why are non-native trees being considered as the applicant's choice for replanting?

    -If the data center is sold, will the subsequent owner be able to use water for cooling?

    -If the data center operates at less than capacity, what is the impact on tax revenue?

    -Has an an environmental economic analysis been conducted?

    -What is the County's plan to protect our source of drinking water from the negative impacts of acres and acres of impervious surface? 26239903_10155869562591093_5486052635847075603_n.png
     
    Cheryl Looper likes this.
  6. techeng01

    techeng01 Member

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    I don't see this as a referendum on ALL data centers as you (vacliff) are making it out to be. This is whether this specific data center should be approved for a zoning application.

    If citizens are against having this specific data center approved, please call/email the supervisors.
     
    OSimpson likes this.
  7. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    I would say that developer were/are greedy for years for re-zoning as much as possible to squeeze in more and more housing that wasn't part of the current Comprehensive Plan. I spend a lot of time working with schools and when you see the overcrowding, and staff cuts I would not use the word "greedy" for LCPS. Also, LCPS is part of this County. They have all the financial resources available - during the discussions of the budget, they can make sure that the cost will be efficient and effective.
     
  8. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    Yes - that is correct. It's about the location.
     
  9. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    No referendum intended. To clarify my position, I support this site for data centers.

    If citizens support this data center being approved, please call/email the supervisors.
     
  10. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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  11. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    I'd still love to see stats from the Commission to back this up specifically the recurring revenue coming in from these sites vs other uses. Before we talked about a use tax... but isn't that the same use tax the county gives these sites an exception to as inventive? I'm still cautious when it comes to the revenue story from these sites... even tho I support their presence... I'm not sold yet on their actual 'footprint' in the county.
     
  12. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    The revenue dollars are easy to verify and is significant. As far as data center uses versus other uses, the differences there are also not hard to quantify.
    For example, a lot of the data centers have been constructed on open land......land that was available for commercial use for years but has sat unused because the demand for office parks and other commercial uses just isn't there. If data centers weren't there, probably nothing would be. The county had no shortage of unused office/flex industrial sites.

    The other data center locations....where existing flex/industrial buildings were converted to data centers (like in Beaumeade) you can compare the tax generated from the previous use to the current data center use.

    And then there is the benefit to the county, not be direct revenue, but the lack of expenses. For example, take the remaining acreage around the former Verizon campus that was once MCI World Com. Their plans were to have 20,000 employees there. Think of the expenses associated with that...educating those employee's kids, fire and rescue, etc. and other services the county provides to citizens.

    The data centers provide a double whammy for the good.....high tax revenue and low county services required.

    The county does not had to provide "incentives" to get data centers here. They may have early on, but not in recent years. In fact, Loudoun charges higher business use tax than the surrounding jurisdictions....by far. Yet, we still get them far more often than Prince William County, Richmond area, etc.
    Loudoun's combination of water supply, power, and the internet backbone is far more attractive to the data center operators outweighs the higher tax cost.

    The land values for data center uses has been driven so high that we are seeing more two story data center designs so they can maximize the land, even though single story facilities are far more efficient than two story designs.
     
  13. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Sorry cliff - that's a sideways answer.

    What specific revenue for the county are they producing.... not verse what alternative... not what a cheap application they are verse another...what revenue are they directly producing. That's what I am interested in seeing... not just "the land has otherwise been idle". I know that :)

    The county's exemption on use tax for data centers is in place. https://biz.loudoun.gov/business-services/incentives-financing/#salesandtaxexemptions
     
  14. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    A few other specifics from an article:
    Loudoun’s tax rate on computer equipment is $4.20 per $100 of assessed value. That’s competitive in Northern Virginia—Fairfax charges $4.57—but much higher than some competitors. Henrico County near Richmond recently lowered its tax on data centers to only $0.40, and Ohio and New York charge no computer equipment tax. State law also allows Loudoun to make a distinction in taxing general computer equipment and data centers differently, which Henrico has done. Currently, Loudoun does not.
    According to a report from the Department of Economic Development, the majority of expense and revenue in a data center comes not from the building, but from the computer equipment inside. That equipment depreciates quickly on the tax rolls, and is replaced every three years.
    Data centers are a major leg of Loudoun’s budget. In fiscal year 2016, taxes on computer equipment brought more than $117 million to the county’s budget—while the data centers themselves put comparatively little burden on county resources. Although they can be power- and water-thirsty, they employ relatively few people at relatively high wages, meaning less impact on roads and schools.
    In this year’s budget, data centers are expected to bring in more than $155 million. The Department of Economic Development estimates they bring in more than $9 of county revenue for every dollar the county government spends supporting them.

    2018 estimated revenue is expected to be around $200,000,000. I admit I cannot find my source for this number, but it falls in line with the growth we are seeing annually. Also, the numbers quoted above do not include the real estate tax revenue.

    Hope you find this answer to be more forwards than sideways.
     
  15. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Sorry, this again doesn't cite actual revenues from data centers in a way that is consistent with the rest of Loudoun's messaging. "In fiscal year 2016, taxes on computer equipment brought more than $117 million to the county’s budget" - this does not discern what portion of that tax revenue comes from datacenters vs other uses.

    "In this year’s budget, data centers are expected to bring in more than $155 million" - This is what I'd like to see actually expanded upon and then you can contrast with other uses.

    So far this seems like a lot of conflicting messages to me... You can't give the DCs all these incentives tax wise and advertise why it makes sense for DCs to build here... while concurrently boasting how much they are paying in taxes. Something is missing in that story. I'd love to see Mr DC from the Economic Development council actually articulate in a credible way and not just in reporter interviews...

    Especially when you look at the budget... and the TOTAL non-property tax revenue for the county is LESS than the numbers touted here as just coming from Datacenter taxes

    Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 12.41.24 PM.png

    Clearly someone is using fuzzy math where they talk about one type of tax... then conveniently lump far more types into their totals (like all property taxes paid)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  16. techeng01

    techeng01 Member

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    Thanks flynnibus. It does not add up (neither did the extraordinary claims about the tax revenue for this single DC, but oh well it passed, follow the money)
     
  17. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    In 5 years on the charts... non-property use taxes have gone up only 10million annually..... yet we've been in the biggest DC building boom ever. I know many of these haven't come online yet... but many have. All non-property taxes have gone up only 20million.

    Where is this windfall of tax revenue???

    I'd wager all the datacenter money is in the big contractors who have projects galore all around making them good money building these sites... and of course the property owners finally turning the idle land into productive projects.

    Not everything smells like roses from the EDC...
     
  18. Sunstoner

    Sunstoner Southern Walk||IMPERIUM IN IMPERIO||Not OB||

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    How do I get in on this? :pofl:

    Seriously, in 10-15 years when Quantum Computing dramatically alters the landscape and disrupts the perpetual large, co-located data center enclaves here in Loudoun are these data centers we build here able to retrofit? Adapt? Will they want taxpayer concessions like the NFL owners who demand that the public pay for stadium upgrades?

    I'd hate to drive around Loudoun County in my old years, particularly Shellhorn Road and see the digital equivalent of empty steel mills because of a new digital revolution rendering them useless.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  19. PP-Power

    PP-Power Member

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    I don't foresee empty abandoned data centers. The technology advancements will be inside the DCs... stronger and faster, with a smaller footprint, which allows for expansion, without expanding the building. Think of it like an old computer tower, you can really reuse the tower forever, and just keep upgrading the components on the inside. Just my 2 cents anyway given what I've seen.
     
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  20. stevenbdjr

    stevenbdjr New Member

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    I can't speak to all of the numbers in that budget report, but I can clarify one point as a small-business owner with assets in a data center. While the data centers may get tax incentives to build, I know I pay property taxes to the county on my equipment that I host inside the data center. I do this in every location I have equipment (CA, VA, NJ). I believe this is the property tax revenue they're referring to. Most of the data centers under construction around here are multi-tenant facilities; DFT, RagingWire, and Sabey all along Waxpool, and Digital Reality along Shellhorn and LoCo Pkwy, all provide space for other companies to put their equipment; those companies pay the county property tax on the equipment inside the facility, regardless of whatever deal the data center company has negotiated with the county.

    Despite being in this industry, I too share Sunstoner's worries that in 15 - 20 years the Ashburn area will regard abandoned data centers in the same way other towns view abandoned steel mills or automobile factories.
     

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