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Atlanta data centre group opposes residential housing plans

Thu 6 Oct 2016

Legal representatives for General Electric, E-Trade Financial, and Carter Validus have filed opposition to a proposed rezoning which would permit the construction of 82 residential buildings near data centres located in the city of Alpharetta, Atlanta.

It’s a reversal of the typical scenario, where residents are either resisting new builds or actively courting them. The three companies involved claim that the region was set up for data centre usage in the 1990s, with no consideration needed for adjacent residential areas, and that fuel pollution, traffic access, and security consideration mitigate against building homes in the zone.

The move is also a negation of the increasing trend towards DC/residential integration, which can prove effective in reducing PUE.

Sharp Residential planning application

Sharp Residential planning application

The rezoning application was made by Sharp Residential LLC, with the intention of repurposing the office/operational permits currently in force over 13.7 acres of undeveloped land near Union Hill and McGinnis Ferry. The rezoned land would allow for mixed usage, including housing, local shops, residential rentals and office uses.

GE lawyer Joshua Hill contacted town planners towards the end of September voicing misgivings about the application, and observing that “Residential usage in this area is inconsistent with the current commercial use and will likely cause a serious increase in operational and other risks to GE.”

At the same time, E-Trade Financial representative David Herr wrote his own letter of protest on the company’s behalf, opining that the proposal would be “likely to lead to conflict between the existing commercial occupants and future residents.”

Carter Validus, who also own DC space directly adjacent to the contested area likewise registered objections, with its representative arguing:

“The property was developed as a data center district in 1990s, and building homes in the vicinity poses environmental and security issues, such as people viewing confidential equipment, children trespassing and the exposure to diesel fuels needed to operate generators.”

David Herr justified the group’s collective objections over security, saying:

“Data centers contain confidential and sometimes classified information that could be attacked or lost, due to temperature changes or failure of water and electricity supply for even seconds. Emergency systems are in place to prevent this. We are concerned about the impact of dense residential town homes on water and electricity. Further, their nearness to our facility and the ease of viewing or trespassing onto our property from the proposed road is of great concern.”

The hearing takes place at the Alpharetta Planning Commission today. Sharp Residential is hoping to construct 82 three-storey residences around 2,600 sq ft in the $500,000-$550,000 price range.

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