Amazon AWS: Culpeper County sued by neighbors over rezoning

May 10, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

According to reports, residents in Culpeper County, Virginia, are suing the county board after it approved the rezoning of a 230-acre property for an AWS data center. The giant is seeking to build two six-story data centers, a 12-acre power station and new power lines, however, six landowners in the area are now requesting a Virginia court overturn the Board's decision, which they argue, "illegally spot zones" the property and violates local and state law.

Marvell Developments LLC, is the Amazon Web Services subsidiary, seeking to develop the area, with its proposed facilities, according to the Culpeper Star-Exponent, spanning "more than twice the area of two Walmart Supercenters."

Two of the parties taking forward the suit, are landowners, Julie and Alan Davis, the latter of which spoke to the local paper, and said: "Instead of looking at horses in pastures, I would be looking at a 50-foot building with lights and security fencing. No landowners can feel safe or be willing to invest in property if the county can be allowed to spot zone whatever they want." Similar concerns have been raised by others involved in the suit, such as Ralph Pritt who said while he build his home at the location due to the "beautiful countryside" now his reality will be like "living in a Wal-Mart parking lot."

The main point of contention is the fact that farmland is being rezoned to industrial land, and that, already, there are five technology zones in Culpeper where this new development could take place. In the lawsuit, it is also being argued that the review process usually takes much longer than three months, and that the Board gave the rezoning the green light despite the Planning Commission's vote and "heavy opposition" by residents, landowners, and a number of national historic-preservation groups. 

Board Chairman Gary Deal, one of the board members who okayed the development, said that the opposing group represented a "vocal minority", adding: "We have to approve these economic development projects. The majority are struggling, worried about gas prices, groceries, inflation at 8%. If we don't plan for the future, these people will be impacted. My role is to provide services for those people and to plan ahead."