Bozrah rejects data center because of project questions
The Bozrah Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing at Fields Memorial School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to get feedback from residents regarding a proposed zoning change. The change, requested by GotSpace Data Partners LLC of Boston, Mass., would establish a new zoning category, the Technology Park District (TPD).
GotSpace had approached the town more than a year ago with the idea of building a series of data centers in a 40-acre parcel located in a wooded area behind properties on Bozrah Street (Route 163) and Houghton Road.
Planning and Zoning Chair Stephen Seder opened the meeting to comments and questions at 7 p.m. Also present were Planning and Zoning Commission members Scott Barber, Manuel Misarski, Stephen Coit and Nancy Taylor, as well as two members of the Board of Selectmen, Glenn Pianka and William Ballinger. Residents of Bozrah, including owners of property near the site of the proposed data center, raised several concerns, not the least of which was the fact that the owners and representatives of GotSpace were noticeably absent. The reason given for the no-show was that the company is undergoing a change in leadership, which raised more questions regarding the stability of the company and its ability to complete the project and follow through with any agreements it might make with the town.
Other concerns included disruption of the rural nature of this portion of Bozrah. Adjacent properties include several private homes, a church and the town-owned Maples Farm Park and Homestead, with its restored historic farm house, hiking and riding trails, picnic tables and a large field currently used as a soccer pitch. The park, which is near the senior center, a playground and a Little League field, is also the site of Bozrah’s well-known Farmers Market. In a sense, Maples Farm Park has become the town green for the community and has been the site of community harvest pot-luck picnics, weddings and other public and private events.
Residents spoke about the need for a closer look at similar data centers built by GotSpace to determine any impact on the community of the construction and daily operation of a 24-7 business. Would traffic patterns be affected? What about excessive noise levels from construction and the ongoing operation of generators? Would the buildings and parking lot create light pollution?
Others were concerned that GotSpace had apparently decided that their needs for electric power far exceeded the capabilities of our local power company, Bozrah Light and Power, so they had applied to Eversource to bring in the power that they needed.
The Planning and Zoning Commission and two representatives from the Board of Selectman were able to answer some of the public’s questions, but it appeared after less than an hour of discussion that although Bozrah residents might be amenable to the idea of a technology park in the future, they were not satisfied with the proposed zoning change nor with the lack of information and data forthcoming from the company that had applied for it.
When the hearing ended, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to reject the proposal from GotSpace without prejudice, which they explained would allow for a future proposal either from that development company or some other entity who would be willing to meet with the community and satisfy their concerns.
Mary Elizabeth Lang lives in Bozrah.
Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.