Connecticut: Groton votes unanimously to approve region's first data center regulations, blocking large scale data center projects

Jul 03, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

At a planning meeting this week in Groton, Groton's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved regulations to limit the size of data centers after a year-long moratorium. 

Under the ruling, while local enterprises will be permitted to build their own on-premises facilities, hyperscale developers will be banned, with the size of data centers limited to 12,500 sqft. The regulations are set to go into effect on July 14. 

In addition to this, any proposal must meet the state's noise standards, include a fire suppression plan, run on renewables and be prohibited from being located within 1,500 feet of a property where another data center is housed. Water evaporation techniques for cooling will also be prohibited.

The ruling was not without controversy, however, despite strong backing from the local community. Nicholas Fiorillo, manager of Gotspace Data, reportedly called for a "cease and desist" of the agenda item, writing that the town is "clearly looking to derail the Plaintiffs development of data campuses that are proposed on its data campus sites."

According to a report by The Day, Friorillo has stated that Groton executed a community host agreement and power-purchase agreement to permit hyper-scale data centers larger than 12,500 square feet, and made the accusation that the town is trying to repeal these agreements by blocking the development of data centers by limiting their size. He also said that the town of Groton is named as a defendant in the lawsuit for a "conspiracy to limit the development of data centers."

Fiorillo said he plans to appeal the commission's decision.

Chris Regan, formerly NE Edge, was also in attendance at the ruling, and shared his views on the new regulations: "What you guys are doing with this regulation is eliminating entirely a data center coming into this town, and that's the future. They're going to be required for self-driving vehicles throughout the area. … There has to be a data center in this area for that to happen. The industry wants to come here, so I just think that you are cutting with technology that is going to be in the future."