Curbs on Data Centers Defended
Baker, Chris, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The District's planning chief said yesterday the city will stick to its controversial new restrictions on data centers, despite mounting criticism from developers and business activists.
Data centers are fortresslike facilities that house heavy technology equipment. They usually feature thick walls and sophisticated wiring to protect the machinery inside from bad weather and power outages.
The District is believed to be the first city in the nation to adopt tough regulations of the centers, although spokesmen for other cities said they are considering similar restrictions.
The local regulations place proposed centers under more scrutiny, requiring developers to go through a special review process to help the city determine the potential impact of the facilities on neighborhoods.
Before the D.C. Zoning Commission adopted the new regulations last week, data centers could be built in any commercial zone in the city.
"We don't want to see a proliferation" of data centers, District planning chief Andrew Altman said yesterday.
The city will stick to its restrictions, Mr. Altman said, although several developers and activists insist they will hurt the District's ability to attract other kinds of technology operations.
Mr. Altman estimated 1.5 million square feet of data centers have been proposed in the District.
He said the city is especially concerned about a glut of centers in NoMa, the neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue, designated as a technology business district.
A Metrorail station is slated to be built in the heart of NoMa, at New York and Florida avenues NE, by 2004. Mr. Altman said the city does not want data centers, which typically employ only 10 to 20 workers apiece, to be built on land near the station where shops, restaurants and offices could be developed.
Real-estate industry leaders who attended a public meeting with Mr. Altman Wednesday said they are outraged by the decision. …