Allen County Plan Commission unanimously approves land annexation for data center; residents express frustration

“We’re going to be sacrificed on the altar of the almighty buck,” one resident said.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 2:39 PM EST
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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA) - A proposed data center will be moving forward.

Thursday, members of the Allen County Plan Commission met to discuss the annexation of county land to the City of Fort Wayne. The annexation is part of “Project Zodiac,” a data center that looks to be built by a Fortune 100 company.

READ MORE: Neighbors concerned over proposed Fort Wayne data center, City councilors approve annexation in efforts to bring Fortune 100 company to town

The annexation of 728 acres of land is in the southeast part of the county. Portions of the land are zoned in Allen County and the City of New Haven. With approval from both city and county, the land would be moved into Fort Wayne City limits.

A vote was also taken to vacate and close a portion of East Paulding Road, which passed unanimously.

Residents who attended the meeting expressed their frustration with the decision.

“It’s all about the bucks,” one woman said. “It’s gonna be us residents, some of us who have been in our area for many generations, we’re going to be sacrificed on the altar of the almighty buck.”

After Thursday’s vote, Fort Wayne’s Plan Commission will vote on the proposal next at the Nov. 20 meeting Once that vote is complete, it will go to Allen County Commissioners who will vote on the annexation.

There are still a lot of unknowns about the project, the biggest one is the company behind the proposal. The applicant for “Project Zodiac” is DMI FW, LLC. Attorney Tom Trent of Rothberg, Logan, and Warsco law firm is representing the LLC and is “advancing the application” for the Fortune 100 company. Trent said could not give the name of the company but they are headquartered in the U.S. and operate data centers throughout the country and the world.

What information has been released is the proposed data center campus would span 892 acres bounded by East Tillman Road, Adams Center Road, and the railroad tracks. In a joint plan communication meeting with the city and county, Trent presented a 20-minute look at what the data center would entail.

Along with the annexation, the company is asking for a waiver permitting a maximum ornamental fence height of up to 8 feet. The second waiver of the county ordinance restricts non-residential buildings or structures to not exceed more than 40 feet tall. With this waiver, the data center would have the flexibility to build up to 75-foot-tall.

The five land parcels of land would also need to be rezoned once the annexation is complete. That rezoning would be BTI which exists between the surrounding industrial and agricultural zoning districts.

The nearly $850 million dollar investment will create roughly 30 jobs If completely built out Trent said that the project could lead to a $3 to $4 billion investment.

However, some Allen County residents have expressed concerns about the lack of specific details regarding the proposed data center owners as well as concerns about the noise level, environmental impact, and the future of the area.

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