By Lauren Takores
WALLINGFORD — The owner of a company seeking to build data centers on undeveloped land in town said Tuesday that a proposed location would not overlap with a nature preserve owned by a community land trust.
Gotspace Data Partners LLC, a Groton-based company with its business registration in Boston, is in the process of building data campuses in several Connecticut towns that would house telecommunications infrastructure.
There are two possible Wallingford locations. One site is a patchwork of properties with three owners totaling 205 acres west of North Farms Road, bordering the Meriden city line, Tankwood Road and Route 15.
Conceptual plans for the data center, available on the company’s website, are apparently out of date.
The map shows an access road to the data centers at the trailhead of Orchard and Spruce Glen Trail, a 68-acre site with its entrance at the northern end of Barnes Industrial Road Park North.
The property, owned by the Wallingford Land Trust, contains more than two miles of hiking trails, a wildlife habitat improvement area and a 13-foot waterfall.
Thomas Quinn, one of Gotspace’s owners, said Tuesday that the conceptual site plan “has since been modified and has not caught up to the web graphic.”
“There is not intent to utilize or propose to include this Wallingford Land Trust land in the data center development,” he said.
Wallingford Land Trust president Rich L'Heureux said Tuesday that he still has concerns about the proposed data centers.
“Unfortunately, you can't be progress,” L'Heureux said. “We would hate to see it be developed in any way, shape or form, but if it's got to be developed, a data center would certainly be more welcome than a warehouse, with trucks in 24-hour operations, or a car dealership.”
The land trust’s purpose is to preserve natural resources in town, he said, so his concerns with the proposed data centers would be the same as with any nearby development — runoff, erosion and sedimentation, construction of impermeable surfaces that could cause flooding into the land trust property, the generation of trash or debris.
“These are some primo properties in town,” he said, “and it's a shame that at some point in time, similar to the city of Meriden, there's not going to be any open land.”
He added that with more people permanently switching to working from home, it leaves many vacant buildings could be repurposed.
“Instead of building brand new, and having these empty buildings around town that become eyesores and dangerous, why not utilize those before you go and dwindle our natural resources with new buildings?” he said.
Contract filed with town clerk
The Orchard and Spruce Glen Trail property is bordered to the west by Route 15 and to the east by farmland owned by Joseph E. Geremia, of Wallingford.
Geremia owns the westernmost property Gotspace is seeking — a 93.26-acre property, consisting of two parcels that border Meriden to the north, land owned by Frank Kogut, Brian Kogut and Martin Santacroce to the east, and the corporate offices of Hobson-Motzer and manufacturer Holo-Krome to the south.
A notice of contract between Ocean Development Precinct 1, LLC, a Boston-based firm, and Geremia was filed with the Wallingford Town Clerk on May 3.
The notice states the two parties entered into a contract for the sale and purchase of the properties. As of Tuesday, no real estate transaction involving the properties has been recorded.
Quinn said last week that neither the buildings nor the location have been vetted by the town. No permit applications have been submitted to the town’s land use offices yet.
Jeff Kohan, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, attended a remote Town Council meeting last week, during which the initial plan for the data centers was presented.
He asked about the the approvals from the town land use boards Gotspace is seeking.
Kohan said Tuesday that proximity of the proposed data centers to the land trust property would be something the commission would consider.
“The Planning and Zoning Commission takes a lot of different concerns into evaluating an application,” he said. “It's absolutely something that would either be brought up by the commission, or the residents, I'm sure, would bring it up as well.”
He added that the commission’s main concern is making sure development applications meet the town’s zoning regulations.
The proposed site is in the Industrial Expansion (IX) zone — an area where the town has been trying to allow more kinds of business and industry.
Gotspace is seeking a hosting agreement with the town. If Wallingford officials enter into a host agreement, it could generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue annually, Quinn said last week.