WALLINGFORD While town officials are working to bring data centers into town, residents expressed a new concern about environmental impacts on water and wildlife.
Gotspace Data Partners LLC is a Boston-based company that plans to build two data centers in Wallingford. Each campus would have multiple buildings with a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes that would generate upwards of $1.5 million per building annually for the town.
Kevin Pagini, Town Planning Officer, presented last week at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting ChangesThe proposed Modifications to the zoning textAllow data centers to be used by special permits in the Industrial Expansion (IX), Interchange District (I-5) zones.
Gotspace is currently looking into properties in the IX zone. This allows for industrial and office uses as well as redevelopment following the demolition of an existing structure. Greenfield development would allow for a forest or agricultural area.
Gotspace is unable to proceed without the necessary regulation changes. Data centers are not allowed in any other part of town at the moment. However, the rules would apply to any Wallingford-based data center developer.
At a recent PZC meeting, members of the public, many of them residents of the areas where Gotspace is planning to build, raised concerns about air quality, ambient noise, and other quality-of-life issues.
Nicholas Fiorillo, CEO of Gotspace, stated Friday that companies that he has been in talks with would use the data centers. These companies could potentially be some the largest companies in the world and have pledged to have a net zero carbon footprint.
Fiorillo pledged that the first Connecticut data center to run on renewable energy in Wallingford would be operational by 2030.
He said that the generators we buy run on both hydrogen and diesel. The diesel fuel won’t be available until the hydrogen is available. We can use hydrogen to replace diesel in the same way we were building these things.
Residents were concerned about the possibility that wildlife could be displaced.
Danielle Conway, 78 Tankwood Road, claimed that she hears a group of coyotes on the farmland directly across from her home.
Is it possible that these buildings will take up my backyard space if they are taking up this space? She agreed. Where are they going to go? Are they going to get me?
She stated that there is no requirement for an environment impact study in the proposed regulations regarding data center development.
Deborah Delillo of 22 Tankwood Road spoke about the animals nearby, including hawks bald eagles rabbits deer and coyotes.
She stated that without the hawks who eat snakes rats mice and other nuisances they will overrun our neighborhood. Do we need to give money to the side to help control animals?
Gotspace has not submitted any site plans. Erin OHare, Town Environmental Planner, would review any plans and recommend conditions for approval to Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
OHare indicated that any proposed site plans to build data centers would be brought before a wetlands commission. A threshold of 20,000 square feet is required to create a surface area. This automatically triggers a permit for a wetland. None of the data centers proposed are less than 20,000 square footage.
They will need to obtain another wetland permit for activities located within 50 feet of a wetland, 50 feet from any stream, river, swamp, or bog.
OHare indicated that Gotspace might hand the project to another developer as per the town’s host agreement. However, the properties may not get developed completely.
She said, “I know they have big ideas.” But who knows whats going to happen? You just have to wait and watch.
All wildlife is affected by development. However, some animals thrive afterward. Wild turkeys, hawks, deer, and rabbits love power lines and transmission corridors for their early successional habitat.
She explained that while some wildlife living in wetlands and woods may be more severely affected than others, they often move to new areas. This is not something that can be done overnight, even if it were to happen. Critters move on. Even if they were going for a series, it doesn’t happen in one go. So animals adapt.
She looked into the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protections Natural Diversity Data BaseTwo spots were found that displayed endangered and/or at risk species from federal and state governments near the areas Gotspace is planning to build.
It is not possible to pinpoint the exact location of these areas or provide information about what animals or plants were found there. These are called blobs.
They deliberately make them big so you don’t know exactly where they are. OHare also stated that turtle collectors and orchid collectors won’t venture out there.
Developers can request a letter from the Natural Diversity Data Base under DEEP when a development is announced.
Gotspace plans to build two data centers in Wallingford
Ocean Development Precinct I LLC, a Boston-based company has entered into contracts to purchase and sell properties with several property owners. These include land along Barnes Road and Northrop Road, North Farms Road and Tankwood Road.
Some contracts are for land. Gotspace won’t be pursuing the Town Council that removed from consideration 57 acre behind the Hilton Garden Inn in the host agreement negotiations.
According to Massachusetts business filings Fiorillo is Ocean Developments manager. He is the new CEO of Gotspace.
According to OHare there are large wetlands on the site.
Four parties own the area, which is composed of farmland.
Joseph E. Geremia of Wallingford owns the westernmost property, a 93.26-acre parcel that borders Meriden. He also owns 11.13 acres of land at Sterling Drive’s end.
Martin Santacroce of Wallingford owns land bordering Geremia. This includes a house on 1061 North Farms Road (2.07 acres) and land totaling 32 at 1047 North Farms Road 1057 North Farms Road, 1011 North Farms Road.
Frank Kogut of Meriden and Brian Kogut of Meriden each own land south of Tankwood Road. The property covers 57.07 acres and includes a pick your own orchard, Emerald Green Farm and Gardens and 80 Tankwood Road. Kenneth Kogut has 10.03 acres at Tankwood.
Walter Werbiski has approximately 78 acres on North Farms Road. Joyce P. Werbiski also owns 63 acres. Gotspace was looking at developing these properties, but no contract notice was filed with the town clerk on Wednesday.
There were no contract notices filed for any properties at Wallingford that Gotspace wanted to acquire for a data campus.
The site comprises seven properties that are located north-east of North Farms Reservoir, on Northrop and Barnes roads.
Kathryn J. is the owner of Erin Isle Farm on 80 acres at 965 Northrop Road. Wall, Thomas M. Wall and Terrance. Wall. Timothy Wall owns adjacent land located at 963 Northrop Road.
John Usdan, Westport, owns the properties at 1000 Barnes Road (and 1030 Barnes Road), 1080 Barnes Road (and 1080 Barnes Road). Adam Usdan is the owner of the property at 1020 Barnes Road.
Megan McCloskey is listing another property at 1015 Northrop Road as being under negotiation.
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