North Carolina: Residents voice concern around Fayetteville data center site annexation

Jun 30, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Residents in Fayette County have voiced concerns about the consideration of approval for the annexation of 412 acres in the center of the county, enabling the development of a data center. According to the city report: "If annexed, the properties would be zoned BP Business Park and designated as Suburban Office on the Future Land Use Map." The purpose of the annexation and zoning is said to be to "combine these tracts with the adjoining properties" within the city limits to "establish a 600-acre multi-use business park which would include research and development, life science and data center facilities.

Currently, city staff is pushing for approval for the development, which has been presented as offering 100 jobs and a billion-dollar ultimate investment. However, citizens have been vocal about their opposition and are calling for locals to plan to attend the rezoning meeting on 6-30-22 at 6:00 p.m. in the Fayetteville City Hall, 210 Stonewall Ave, so people can voice "concerns" and "get FCDA and city officials to reassess their plans."

In a statement, the group rallying against the annexation approval said: "Do not be fooled by the pretty images of a data center' campus.' Data centers, also euphemistically called The Cloud, are pitched to towns as a way to generate revenue without burdening schools and roads."

The group called the Fayette County data center project the "brainchild" of FCDA and rich investors but said that the number of jobs created would, in fact, be "minimal" due to facilities being operated remotely, and requiring a "skeleton crew."

They added that the development would be "enormous" and "ongoing," with servers having to be replaced every three years. The statement said: "Imagine living right next door or nearby while the construction rages on. Once completed, the centers would destroy your peace and quiet as you helplessly watched your property value plummet (while investors continued to get tax breaks)." 

The group protesting the development said that taxes could rise, and that "protecting the wetlands" as required by the EPA "wouldn't happen, as evidenced by Trilith (formerly Pinewood Studios) and Fayetteville's history of not enforcing the rules." It was argued in the statement that city and county officials have "not done their due diligence" on the impact of the data centers, and that due to the state government wanting "big business in Georgia," they "don't care" about how it impacts people in the county.