Rezoning approved for Amazon data center


Jerome Township Trustees recently rezoned the land where Amazon plans to build its data center. The 99.5 acre plot of land is located on the south side of Warner Road, west of Industrial Parkway. The conceptual site plan, outlined in red above, includes some of the facilities that will be included, although they may be configured differently in the final planning phase. Amazon representatives said the site has “more than a million square-foot potential” for data centers and switching stations, at the center of the graphic, as well as room for a smaller security building. (Graphic submitted)

Amazon is one step closer to creating its data center in Jerome Township.
Trustees gave the gave green light on a request from Amazon Data Service, Inc. to rezone 99.5 acres on the northwest corner of Industrial Parkway and Warner Road.
The area, which is currently used for agricultural purposes, is now zoned Office/Research/Medical District (ORM) from Rural Residential District (RU).
In November 2019, the board of trustees unanimously approved two tax agreements that paved the way for Amazon to build a 250,000 square-foot facility.
Jeff McKenzie, who spoke on behalf of the applicant, reiterated that the company intends to create a data center similar to those in Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany.
He said the facility “does three things.”
It provides data storage, which is “like renting the refrigerator;” active storage, “where they actually rent you the kitchen” and allow other companies to use their storage as they create their own software; and software development products, in which Amazon will provide other companies with material to develop their own software.
Zoning Inspector Eric Snowden said the rezoning application was reviewed by the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission, the township zoning commission and township staff.
All three recommended approval.
He said staff agreed that “this use complies completely” with the Jerome Township and Union County comprehensive plans.
Snowden noted that the applicant is not “tied to” their conceptual site plan, so long as the final plans fall within the realm of ORM zoning requirements.
McKenzie said the land allows for “more than a million square-foot potential” of data centers and a “small security building” that will be approximately 4,000 square-feet.
He emphasized, though, that the conceptual site plan is just to demonstrate “we can fit all the pieces on the site” and it may be reconfigured in final plans.
While the development will be subject to a traffic study, McKenzie said he doesn’t anticipate the data center significantly impacting traffic flow in the area.
He said it will employ 190 employees, divided over eight shifts. At its peak, he said approximately 45 employees will be at the data center.
As a condition of approval, Snowden said the development will also be required to submit a “sound study.”
Trustee Chair Megan Sloat said she wanted to ensure the facility doesn’t become a nuisance, as she feels some larger warehouses can be.
“Sometimes the back-up generators for these facilities can be very loud,” she said.
Snowden said the condition requires a sound engineer to provide an analysis of the development plans, which he will review at the zoning certification phase.
McKenzie said Amazon will use a variety of noise mitigation techniques that will direct and diffuse sound.
The second condition of approval is that the property become part of the Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).
Union County Economic Development Director Eric Phillips has previously said Jerome Township will receive $54,000 in income tax revenue from the property through the JEDD agreement.
He also said at the time that Marysville will receive an equal amount, which city officials have committing to investing in the township.
In other business:
– Trustees approved a development plan modification for Terra Landscaping.
Snowden said there have been issues, specifically regarding the lack of required landscaping, at the site since its original development plan was approved several years ago.
However, he said the owner of the company and property, Jeff Stroupe, approached him about a year ago with a request to modify the plan.
As his operation has grown, Stroupe said there is a need to expand to fill the site.
Snowden explained that the non-compliant uses haven’t been cited because he doesn’t generally issue violations while an applicant is “going through the regulatory process.”
“It would not make sense to install landscaping while he’s actively working to get new landscaping approved,” he said.
He ensured that Stroupe will be required to install the appropriate landscaping as a part of the newly approved modification.
Terra Landscaping will be a part of the JEDD, as well.

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