Tuesday, May 28, 2024

A-List Actor Loses Fight Against Amazon Encroachment in Rural Va. County

'We must all work to preserve the character of this town...'

(Headline USA) 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.

In a meeting that began early Tuesday evening and concluded well after midnight early Wednesday morning, the Town of Warrenton voted 4-3 to approve a special use permit for Amazon, despite Duvall’s opposition.

The 92-year-old Godfather and 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 NIMBYism directed at Amazon is not the first time wealthy residents of the bucolic county have risen up in opposition to urban sprawl.

In the early 1990s, Duvall and other millionaires, including candy heiress Jacqueline Mars, bitterly fought Disney’s efforts to create a history-themed amusement park in the area, which is near several prominent Civil War battlefields.

A group called Citizens for Fauquier County, which led those efforts, also fought to prevent a Walmert supercenter from opening on the edge of town, reported the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Although it was successful at the time, Warrenton eventually did wind up with a Walmart.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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