Planning board recommends change to potential usages in Red Rock development

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 22, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Planning Board recommended a change to the Red Rock Development that would allow the developer to add “data centers” to the list of potential usages for the property on Long Ferry Road, now being called Carlton Farms.

A data center, as defined in the planning staff report, would allow for cloud storage for e-commerce businesses or other businesses or for crypto-currency mining.

Senior Planner Shane Stewart, who handled the request, said that this type of change would typically only require a text amendment to the potential usages but that he decided to handle it as a rezoning so that nearby community members would be directly notified. A text amendment only requires notice in the newspaper but a rezoning requires the notice to be mailed to all neighbors that would be affected by the change.

“This is what lets the public know that changes that aren’t minor have to come back to this board, so we’ll see it again if there is something like this, where different usages are being added,” said Stewart.

One of the larger concerns with the text amendment, which was voiced by neighbor Ricky Mahaley, planning board member Jerry Davis and in the staff report, was the noise that is typically associated with data centers. The text amendment would allow for all of the buildings on the property to be used for data centers, which Davis said he was concerned would lead to overwhelming noise concerns.

Todd Ward, senior vice president of planning and entitlements with Red Rock Developments, answered the noise concerns by saying that any data centers would have to abide by the same noise ordinance that any other usage would have. According to the staff report, noise is limited to 65 decibels between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 70 decibels between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“I have limited concern. The ordinance is there, that’s what it’s for, and for us to reduce it, I mean I don’t know what 65 is. Are we equipped to say what it should be reduced to?” said planning board member Tyler Wiethorn.

Ward also said that he understood that he was asking for a usage that could potentially create less jobs than expected, but that in turn a data center would create a much larger capital investment that could bring in more property tax revenue.

“Data centers offer good and bad, is what I’ll say. The con, a lot of times, is that it doesn’t produce as many jobs and jobs provide benefits to the community, you can grow taxes off of the benefits to the community. Although, a data center will come in with a huge capital investment and drives the taxes through the roof, there’s also low impacts on the roads and things like that. You can also use that capital projects for quality of life in parks and things like that,” said Ward.

He said that when the company proposed the project back in 2020, they had no plans to include usages such as data centers. However, the COVID pandemic caused a dramatic change in the economy and now Red Rock is keeping an open mind as to how to fill that space. Because there were not many locations that could support large-size data centers in the region, the company was approached about placing one in Carlton Farms and wanted to keep all of its options available.

At the end of the discussion, the members of the planning board voted unanimously to recommend the change as a rezoning. The planning board’s vote is not final. The request, along with the recommendation, will be submitted to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for the final vote.