Town can’t refuse Amazon offer despite Duvall opposition

Feb 15, 2023, 2:44 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2023, 2:42 pm

Actor Robert Duvall was one of more than 100 speakers at a northern Virginia town’s council meeting opposing a proposed $550 million data center from Amazon.

The Town of Warrenton voted 4-3 early Wednesday morning to approve a special use permit for Amazon, despite Duvall’s opposition.

The 92-year-old “The Godfather” and “The Great Santini” actor lives on a farm in Fauquier County, which surrounds the town.

“We must all work to preserve the character of this town,” Duvall said. “The vast majority of town and county residents agree that this is a bad use of this site.”

He received a standing ovation from attendees at the meeting in Fauquier High School at the conclusion of his remarks.

The northern Virginia region outside the nation’s capital is home to the world’s largest concentration of data centers, which house the computer servers and hardware required to support modern internet use, As data centers have expanded, community opposition has increased, and neighbors have expressed concern over noise from the fans required to keep the machines cool.

Others express concerns about the data centers’ need for electricity and the requirement to build high-voltage transmission lines to support them.

Data centers have also been a revenue boon to local governments, and last month Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a plan for Amazon Web Services to invest $35 billion in new data centers across the state.

In Warrenton, Amazon projects that about 50 workers will be employed at the data center. Supporters said the data center will generate about $900,000 in tax revenue for the town annually.

The permit approved by the town includes noise restrictions and bans construction of an electric substation on the site. Distribution lines from the off-site substation that will serve the data center must be constructed underground, according to the permit.

The Warrenton council meeting began early Tuesday evening and concluded well after midnight early Wednesday morning.

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Town can’t refuse Amazon offer despite Duvall opposition