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Press Release: CFFC’s Zoning Board Appeal on Amazon Data Center Rejected Illegally by Warrenton Official

Contact: Pat Ewing: 540- 454- 7509, Sophie Langenberg: 443-632-6676


Warrenton, VA – May 28, 2024. On May 23, 2024, a senior Warrenton official refused to proceed with a valid appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) of the Town of Warrenton filed on May 16 by Citizens for Fauquier County (CFFC) and ten Warrenton residents. CFFC sought to appeal the Zoning Administrator’s April 18, 2024 approval of Amazon’s Site Development Plan (SDP) for the proposed data center on Blackwell Road. 


This refusal by the Town is unprecedented and unlawful.  Under Virginia law, the BZA is an independent body appointed by the Circuit Court whose activities are outside the control of Town officials. In a letter sent on May 23rd by Rob Walton, Warrenton’s Director of Community Development, CFFC was advised that the BZA would not be permitted to consider CFFC’s appeal. The Town further requested that CFFC retrieve the appeal materials it submitted, and indicated that the materials would be discarded if not retrieved. The idea that a Town official would attempt to usurp power from the BZA and refuse to forward a valid zoning appeal to it is not only outrageous, but this action violates Virginia law and the Town’s ordinances that appeals must be transmitted to and decided by the BZA.


The BZA Appeal is based on (1) the failure of the Zoning Administrator to comply with the Town’s Zoning Ordinance;  (2) the failure of the Zoning Administrator to apply the conditions stated in the  Special Use Permit (SUP) issued to Amazon by the Town; and (3) the illegality of the Amazon SUP, which is a precondition of the SDP Approval. CFFC and the same Warrenton residents are currently challenging the Amazon SUP in the Circuit Court (Case Number: CL23000128-00). The Circuit Court issued a ruling on February 27, 2024 that was consistent with CFFC’s argument that the Amazon SUP was illegal, and further noted that permitting activity by the Town would also be illegal.  The litigation is ongoing.


Under the law, an appeal to the BZA automatically stops a project from moving forward until the BZA makes a decision. The Town’s illegal rejection of the appeal seeks not only to deny BZA review, but also to circumvent the automatic, statutory halt on development actions for the data center.  CFFC intends “to pursue all available means” to ensure that the appeal to the BZA goes forward and that development activities do not occur while the BZA is conducting its review.


In commenting on this latest Town action, Kevin Ramundo, President of Citizens for Fauquier County, said, “This attempt by the Town to intervene in the legitimate activities of the BZA is not only unprecedented, it is another glaring example of how the Town is ignoring well-established laws, normal standards of governance and transparency, and its own rules and procedures to get this data center built despite the near unanimous opposition of town residents.”  


To underscore this point, Ramundo added, “ In late 2022, the Town Council also intervened and demanded that the its own Planning Commission act on Amazon’s special use permit even though the latter believed it did not have all the necessary information to make an informed recommendation.  The Town Council threatened to take over the review process if the Planning Commission did not make an immediate recommendation. And a few months later on the night they ultimately approved the special use permit by a 4-3 vote, the Town Council denied the request of three council members concerned about the data center to see communications between the Town and Amazon before the vote.  The Town of Warrenton and Amazon, one of the most powerful companies in the world, are going to unprecedented lengths to thwart the public’s will and build this data center despite serious impacts on the health, quality of life and property values of the town’s citizens.” 


The Richmond office of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P. represents CFFC and the town citizens in the SUP litigation.  The firm also represents CFFC in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against Warrenton. This suit will go before a Virginia Appeals Court in late June, and 24 other organizations are supporting CFFC’s appeal.


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Founded in 1968, Citizens for Fauquier County (CFFC) is the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to preserving open space, protecting historic resources and supporting agricultural in the county. CFFC has over 2,000 members and followers who share this mission and who provide support through annual dues and 

donations. CFFC’s decades of work has contributed significantly to preserving  Fauquier County’s rural character. Learn more at citizensforfauquier.org.

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