By Josh LaBella for CT Insider
BOZRAH — A proposal by a Boston company to build a municipal data center, now making its way through the Planning and Zoning Commission, could bring in millions in tax revenue, officials say.
Glenn Pianka, acting first selectman of Bozrah, said Groton-based GotSpace is applying for a zoning regulation text amendment to create a floating zone. If that goes through, he said, the firm would continue with the normal process of approval through that commission.
According to GotSpace’s website, the facility would be built on a 147-acre lot off Route 2, near Exit 23. It plans to build a 157,000-square-foot facility which would require up to 32 megawatts of power.
Pianka said the application came in after the state Legislature passed a law incentivizing companies to create data centers, a dedicated space within a building or a group of buildings used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.
More than 30 states have passed similar laws, and, this year, Connecticut followed suit. It waives state sales and property tax obligations for 20 years for data centers that invest at least $200 million in Connecticut.
Pianka said the tax incentive was necessary, since it would be cost-prohibitive to operate data centers in the state if it were not in place.
The town recently signed an agreement to host the company if they followed all the requirements set out in the bill, Pianka said. That has left some residents concerned the contract would give GotSpace carte blanche to do whatever they want for 20 years, he added.
Pianka said this is not true, and he hopes the public hearing being planned for some time in the first two weeks of October will assuage those fears.
“I’m happy that our planning and zoning is willing to have this public hearing to clarify this stuff,” he said. “People want to feel comfortable with this. This is a major investment.”
Other concerns, Pianka said, is that the facility, if built, will be noisy or overshadow the neighborhood. “The particular site where it is, is probably one that I don’t know would ever get developed if it weren’t something like this.”
But, Pianka added, the center would have very little service impact to the town. It would have approximately 60 employees working over three shifts — negating any possible traffic issues, he said.
“It’s really off the road,” he said. “It’s pretty much almost invisible from where it would be sitting. It’s low-impact.”
Pianka said the proposed facility would bring in an estimated $1.5 million in tax revenue each year. As a comparison, he said Elmbrook Village, a senior housing facility with 120 units, generates approximately $330,000 a year in taxes.
“We are responding there very frequently with ambulances,” he said. “So, there’s a demand on services.”
The town is trying to coordinate school availability in order to pick an exact date for the upcoming hearing, Pianka said.
He sees the possible development as a win. “This public hearing is going to certainly answer some more questions for myself,” Pianka said. “Even after these text amendments, if they’re passed, the Planning and Zoning (Commission) still has the ultimate discretion to allow this to go forward.”