GROTON – The developer behind a proposed large data center has continued to push for a quick resolution, convincing the Groton Town Council to hold a special meeting next week to vote on an agreement that has not yet been finalized.
The host municipality fee agreement sets the fees developer NE Edge would pay Groton if it builds data centers on properties off of Flanders Road, just south of Interstate 95. The agreement is a necessary first step to any data center project required by legislation that NE Edge Manager Thomas Quinn lobbied for, which exempts data centers from property taxes if they agree to pay fees to the town instead.
NE Edge has proposed developing at least one data center on the site, a plan that has drawn opposition and scrutiny from neighbors.
Though the language of the agreement won’t be finalized until Thursday, the Groton Town Council Committee of the Whole agreed on Tuesday night to hold a special meeting next week to vote on the agreement.
NE Edge had originally asked the council to vote on the agreement on Tuesday, but members weren’t prepared to do that, Mayor Juan Melendez told CT Examiner. The company then contacted Melendez to request that the council call a special meeting to vote on March 15, which five of the nine councilors agreed to.
However, Melendez told CT Examiner he is not sure the meeting will be on Tuesday since some councilors have conflicting meetings that day. He said the council has no obligation to vote on the agreement at the special meeting next week.
“We could vote it down, we could vote it up, we could not vote,” Melendez said.
Some councilors opposed voting next week mainly because the agreement has not been finalized, and also because it was not clear whether the public would be able to comment on the final wording of the agreement.
Town Manager John Burt told the commission that he was meeting with Quinn on Thursday morning to “hammer out some more details” in the agreement, which Burt said he is not yet satisfied with. Burt said he would be able to send the updated agreement to councilors on Friday.
Councilor Portia Bordelon said that the council and public needed more time to review the document, and that the public needs an opportunity to comment on the final agreement before the council signs off. Bordelon said the council shouldn’t let pressure from the developer affect its process of reviewing the agreement, and she pressed for public comment to be allowed at the special meeting.
Councilor David McBride said he supported voting on the agreement on March 15, assuming that the finalized document was made available to the public before then. He said there has been substantial public input on the agreement, and that councilors will have a chance to review any changes before voting on it next Tuesday.
“I still have a lot to review as well [to decide how to vote], but I think this gives us ample opportunity, and the public has had time to provide feedback, because they provided us a vast amount of feedback,” McBride said. “I would be in favor of voting because I think that’s the job for us as councilors, to make decisions.”
Melendez told CT Examiner that he does not know yet if there will be public comment, as he hasn’t set the meeting yet and still needs to find a day that works for the council.
The town has already approved a similar agreement from GotSpace to open the door to data centers off of Route 117. Quinn was CEO of GotSpace when that agreement was reached, but is no longer a part of that company, he said.
The agreements don’t guarantee that a data center will be built, and any proposal would still need permits and approval from Planning and Zoning.
Under the proposed agreement the council reviewed on Feb. 22, NE Edge would pay Groton $500,000 a year for every building with a capacity of less than 16 megawatts, $1 million a year for every building between 16 and 32 MW, and $1.5 million a year for every building greater than 32 MW.