Wallingford releases details of data center hosting fee deal

WALLINGFORD – The city has disclosed the contents of its revised hosting agreement with a tech company that wants to build data centers in the east of the city.

The board voted 5-4 to approve the hosting deal with Gotspace Data Partners, which includes fee amounts as payment in lieu of taxes and a list of properties where the facility could be built.

The council voted early Wednesday morning, at a meeting that began Tuesday evening.

A data center houses networked computers for central storage, management and dissemination of information. Gotspace’s data centers would house telecommunications infrastructure and operate around the clock.

The state legislature passed a bill earlier this year to encourage the development of data centers in Connecticut. It comes into force on July 1.

Any owner or operator of data centers can request an exemption from municipal tax by concluding a hosting agreement with a municipality. Wallingford would continue to tax all real and personal property, according to the deal.

Gotspace, the owner of the data center, is looking to build on two potential properties, consisting of paved plots of undeveloped land and farmland with various owners.

The host agreement specifies which properties could be developed in datacenters and limits the agreement to those properties only.

Gotspace is not required to develop all of the properties, according to the agreement. The city does not approve the properties listed in the deal, according to a note from Wallingford legal counsel.

Gotspace is exploring two potential data center campuses in Wallingford. One property is 205 acres located behind North Farms Road and another 138 acres near Northrop Road. A site off Barnes Road was removed from consideration by a council vote.

Access to properties is prohibited on North Farms, Tankwood and Williams roads, except for emergency access.

The maps showing the locations of the buildings presented so far are conceptual in nature. The city’s land use planning commissions are still expected to approve any development plans.

The agreement stipulates that buildings must be 45 feet or less in height, and that any building facing a residential street must comply with regulations regarding building color, fencing, landscaping and light fixtures.

The proposed sites are in the Industrial Expansion Zone (IX), which currently does not include data centers as a permitted use. The Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to amend zoning bylaws to authorize data centers.

How much money would the city get?

Under the agreement, Gotspace would pay Wallingford an annual hosting fee for each building containing computer servers.

The amount of the charge for each building will be determined based on its designed data storage capacity, or actual usage if it exceeds the design capacity, plus any other electricity used in the operation of the building.

Hospitality costs for each building with a capacity of 32 megawatts (MW) or more would be $ 1.5 million per year.

For each building with a capacity of 16 MW to 32 MW, it would be $ 1 million annually, and for each building with a capacity of less than 16 MW, it would be $ 500,000 annually.

There would be an annual increase of at least 2% or, if it is higher, according to the consumer price index formula, with a ceiling of 3%.

It is difficult to estimate how much the city could receive annually. Since there are no official plans submitted to the city planning and zoning office, it is not known how many buildings are planned for each property, the capacity of each building and the actual use of each building. .

At present, concept plans show that 10 data center buildings can fit both properties. At the highest capacity level of 32 MW, the city could earn $ 15 million per year.

The first payment of accommodation costs for a building is due one year from the date a certificate of occupancy is issued for the building. Further payments are due on each anniversary of that date.

Maintaining eligibility for tax exemption

The agreement deals with what would happen if a new federal or state law or regulation required substantial changes to the terms of the agreement.

The city and Gotspace would enter into “good faith negotiations” to make the required changes, and if they couldn’t agree on the changes, they could terminate the deal.

Some requirements for Gotspace to maintain its tax exemption eligibility include applying for a building permit on each plot within 36 months, keeping the city reasonably informed of its plans and actions. and provide a planned construction schedule and a collage for each building.

Gotspace agrees that it will not ask Wallingford for any additional tax exemptions, or any adjustments to its taxes or payments to the city, but Gotspace can still seek tax relief from state or federal authorities.

Gotspace is also set to strike a deal with the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, a deal with Wallingford’s electrical division, and bring in the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to authorize data centers in the area in which they wish to build.

Sound requirements

Several neighbors spoke out against the plans for the North Farms campus at Tuesday’s meeting and at recent city council meetings.

They fear that data centers may have a negative impact on the rural character of their neighborhood and the quality of life, and particularly focus on the potential for noise emanations.

The agreement includes sound regulations.

Under the agreement, Gotspace is to retain the services of a noise control engineer as a consultant to prepare a sound monitoring protocol to determine the pre-existing background sound level for each building located on the properties, including where, when and how sound monitoring should be carried out. .

A noise baseline would be determined by measuring sound at one or more locations closest to the residences in hourly increments for a week, or 168 hours continuously.

The monitoring protocol plan would be submitted to the city for review and comments from its own consultant.

Gotspace’s sound consultant would then model the sound levels transmitted from all facilities to the nearest residences, offer checks and demonstrate compliance through modeling of city-approved sound standards.

A report outlining the design limits and objectives, noise and vibration control concepts to be implemented in the design of the facility would then be submitted for consideration by the city.

The city and Gotspace sound consultants would design and implement the acoustic concepts in the approved plan design drawings.

A final acoustic design report signed by the Gotspace sound consultant detailing the acoustic design would be submitted to the city along with the authorization documents, for approval by the city consultants.

After construction – defined as within 40 days of the city issuing a certificate of occupancy – Gotspace’s sound consultant would measure the sound at the edge of the residential property line to ensure compliance with applicable limits and design goals.

If the site is ever non-compliant, within 14 days Gotspace’s sound consultant would make recommendations for remedial work, including timing, to the city.

If operations are extended over time, proof of compliance will be required at the end of the extensions. Failure to comply will be considered a violation of the agreement.

[email protected]: @LCTakores

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