CITY COUNCIL APPROVES VERIZON DATA CENTRE EXPANSION
PRESS RELEASE: In the face of neighbours’ continued protests over noise concerns, the Roswell City Council unanimously approved a request by Verizon to connect its data centre on Turner Road to an existing facility in Alpharetta.
The move comes six months after Verizon submitted a request to have the property at 10325 Turner Road rezoned from office professional to civic and institutional. The company also sought a conditional use for a major utility facility.
City planning staff has said the use of a major utility should be less intense than other uses allowed in civic and institutional zoning, or even uses allowed under office professional zoning.
At the outset, staff recommended approval of the requests with conditions, but when the matter went before the Roswell City Council in December, a group of residents said they were worried about the noise the 50,800-square-foot facility would emit and how that could affect their property values.
The request was deferred for 90 days.
On March 14, David Kirk with the law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders said Verizon has since made substantial modifications to its initial plans. Now, rather than housing three 18,100-square-foot pods with two diesel generators each, the facility will only have two pods built in phases. The land on the southern half of the property where the third pod had been proposed will not be developed.
The revised site plan also includes 50 parking spaces, 14,500 square feet of office space and a 40-foot neighbourhood compatibility buffer along the back of the property, where the Turner Road right-of-way and a residential subdivision are located.
Kirk said the equipment yard in the back of the building on the western side of the property will be enclosed with 16-foot masonry screen walls, and a brick screen wall will be installed in the front of the building along the equipment yard.
Additionally, there are several retaining walls proposed for the site. The one located next to the neighbourhood compatibility buffer will be a soil nail retaining wall, and several others will be placed in the front of the building on the eastern side of the property along the access road. The retaining walls will range in height with the highest points being 8 feet and 8.5 feet.
In a Jan. 28 letter to the Planning and Zoning Department, Senior Project Manager Katherine McGah with Morrison Hershfield, said the new facility is needed to keep pace with the ever-expanding need for mobile phones and digital services.
“As the workforce continues to transition to ‘remote’ work environments, the need for Verizon’s services will continue to grow,” McGah wrote.
“This is in perfect alignment with the Imagine Roswell 2035 Comprehensive Plan goal to ‘expand high tech infrastructure.”
While the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning and conditional use in February, the City Council on March 14 added 14 conditions.
They include covering the roof with as many solar panels as they can fit and using generators identical to the Verizon standard data centre in San Diego, California. The conditions also prohibit shining any lights on residential properties, testing generators more than one hour and 15 minutes per week and receiving deliveries between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The company is required to keep the undisturbed southern half of the property unfenced.
Before approving the request, residents made one final pitch to the City Council, imploring them not to go through with it.
Justin Reynolds, who spoke in opposition to the project in December, reiterated that his chief concern was with noise.
“A data centre is nothing like an office park, and I don’t think that’s been made clear yet,” Reynolds said.
“This is an industrial data centre, which will produce a great amount of noise from the diesel generators and industrial HVAC equipment. … Yes, the world is going to need more data centres, but it makes absolutely no sense to have a data centre right in the middle of a peaceful residential area.”
Jan Viviani, who has lived at Barrington Farms since 1992, said that while she’s appreciative of some of the changes Verizon made, she still opposes the project.
“I would implore you to think about this,” Viviani said. “This community has been there for a very long time. There are established residents there that this is going to impact. … Would you want to live in any of those homes on that back edge and look out on this facility?”
The next City Council meeting is slated for 7 p.m. March 28 at City Hall.
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