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NO Data Centers In Or Around Warrenton
Data Centers Don't Belong In Or Around Warrenton—Here's How We Stop Them

Virginia is in the midst of a massive build-out of data centers, due to its proximity to major fiber optic connections serving as the hub for the global Internet.

While touted as clean, low-impact uses for business- and industrial-zoned sites, data centers have major disadvantages:

Public health risks due to noise pollution and vibration: Data centers require massive cooling systems generating excessive noise and low-frequency vibration. Already, homeowners in the Great Oaks subdivision of Manassas suffer problems like sleeplessness, immune stress, and other issues due to the noise pollution and vibration from the Amazon Web Services data center nearby. The sleeplessness issue is so severe that some residents must sleep in their basements at night to reduce the noise and vibration impact. A Harvard study of noise levels similar to those emitted by data centers details adverse health effects like hearing loss, tinnitus, and can also cause or exacerbate conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, memory impairment, and childhood learning delays;

Visual and economic impacts of large electric power transmission lines: Data centers require massive amounts of electricity, which often must be delivered by 110-foot tall 230KV transmission towers, like the ones we already see near data center installations in Prince William and Loudon County. If additional data centers are allowed in Warrenton, or nearby in Fauquier County, there is no alternative but to run these tall power towers down Route 29 and through other farm and country land, cutting properties in half, reducing the value of these properties by 40% or more, and destroying our peaceful, scenic landscape approaching Warrenton;

Unreliable tax revenues: Although data center proponents like Jay Heroux tout the tax benefits to the Town from data centers, these taxes are based on assessments made on rapidly depreciated computer equipment, which results in steep declines in tax revenues compared to other industrial uses, since data centers are taxed only on the value of the land, building, and equipment inside the building, and not on sales and income generated, like other businesses. Additionally, large data center operators manipulate the number of computers in their data centers to minimize their tax levels;

Negligible increase in jobs: Compared to other commercial and industrial uses like manufacturing, service, or warehousing, which may add several hundred or more new jobs per location, each new data center adds only a few dozen (or even fewer) jobs per site. Also, these jobs do not employ a meaningful number of local workers since they are usually filled by out-of-town contractors and remote staff;

Risk of obsolescence: There is also the risk that data centers may become obsolete, due to innovations in computer technology that could eliminate the need for these large facilities. When this happens, abandoned data center sites—large, windowless concrete buildings—will become a burden and expense to local communities.

Neither of my two opponents oppose data center projects in or around Warrenton. Town Councilman Jay Heroux was the infamous swing vote in approving the Amazon Data center application, despite massive citizen opposition, and he voted even as he has a conflict of interest that violates our Town Code of Ethics. He will be a repeat performer if the application gets a re-vote. Karen Lavarnway, with zero history of opposing the Amazon project, has just released a video in which she explicitly declines to take a position against data centers in town generally, and refuses explicitly to rule out voting for Amazon’s application if it comes back to Council.

Any additional data center in Town will also require large power towers to serve the higher electrical needs of these facilities, which will bring devastating impacts to Warrenton and Fauquier County.

We Can Stop Data Centers in Warrenton. Here's How:

There is currently a lawsuit by several local homeowners against the Amazon Blackwell Road project in Warrenton. If elected, and if this litigation is successful and this project is brought back to the Town Council for a re-vote on its zoning application, I pledge to vote NO on any new approval.

Additionally, I promise to vote to re-establish the zoning ban on data center development in Warrenton, and will work with local groups and County officials to implement strong restrictions on data center development in Fauquier County, limiting data centers only to a highly limited number of appropriately zoned sites in the County, to preserve Fauquier County's agricultural use and heritage.

A few final thoughts: A lot of the discussion around data centers has focused on taxes and money. While these issues are important, they are by no means the most important thing. Living in Warrenton and Fauquier County has given us all the gift of a very unique and rare environment that's beautiful to live in, supportive of agriculture, family, and healthy living.

Children thrive in this special way of life. They develop an independence and strength of character that they wouldn't get if they grew up in a suburb or a city. Preserving small-town Warrenton means preserving and protecting our homes, our families, and our community. It’s our heritage, our foundation, and our future—and that’s what this election is really about.

To learn more about data centers, and the Warrenton Amazon data center controversy, check our News link.

Restore Transparency and Trust
Getting Our Town Government Back to Serving YOU

Claiming "executive privilege," our Town government is withholding over 3,100 e-mails relating to the process by which the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center on Blackwell Road (next to Country Chevrolet) was guided to approval by the Town Council on February 14th.

No surprise, the Town is now involved in litigation
brought by Citizens for Fauquier County to release these communications to the public. So now the Town, at taxpayer expense, is paying for litigation to continue to keep hiding these communications.

To add insult to injury, before the vote to approve the AWS project on February 14th, four members of the Town Council—Sutphin, Hamby, Hartman, and our very own councilman, Jay Heroux—voted to BLOCK the release of these communications BEFORE the final vote.

It is beyond me why any reasonable representative who cares about doing his or her job and maintaining public trust would have voted on the Amazon data center without having all the facts.

These communications BELONG TO US, since they deal with matters affecting our lives, and should not be covered up by representatives elected to serve us.

What are these four trying to hide?

I bet you’re as outraged by this as I am.
After all, these communications BELONG TO US, since they deal with matters affecting US, the Town residents our representatives were elected to serve.

If elected to the Town Council, I promise to vote to RELEASE these e-mails to the public.
YOU have a right to know what went on with this project, and how it was steamrollered through this Town by our government, the Mayor, our former Town Manager, Brandie Schaeffer (who now works for Amazon), and their cronies on the Town Council.

I will also vote with others on the Town Council to order an investigation into Amazon’s hiring of Brandie Schaeffer,
who, while Town Manager, guided Amazon through the zoning application process, held secret meetings with Town Council members, and communicated ex-parte with Amazon's legal counsel and Amazon representatives.

Making Our Town Government Accountable to US

The Town Council's handling of the data center issue is just an example of a much bigger problem with our Town government and its leadership. The attitude of our Mayor, who deems himself "The Master," our Town government and Town Council is that they know best, and they will do what they want. What do they do when they meet opposition? They dismiss their concerns by accusing them of being fear mongers, liars, or special interest groups and sound false alarms that the public is out to get members of the Council if they vote the wrong way.

Ward 5 residents are sick and tired of their own local government ignoring their concerns and arrogantly doing whatever they want.

If we continue to let them get away with this, this is only the beginning of what they could do
to continue to separate themselves from the will of the local residents they swore an oath to represent.

Preserving Small-Town Warrenton
Fiscally Conservative Policies to Make Warrenton Strong and Preserve Its Small-Town Character

The current Town Council recently voted to increase our operating expenses by more than 32% and is pushing a massive, $108 million capital asset improvement budget, boosting Town debt to $61 million over the next five years—a 400% increase in Town debt!

Look at some of the expensive new projects in this proposed budget: A multi-level parking garages off Main Street, a total rebuild of our sewer and water treatment facility capacities, a $30 million Town vehicle maintenance facility, unnecessary new streets and roundabouts, substantial but unnecessary increases in both the numbers of and the salaries paid to Town employees, and outsized increases to information technology and accounting systems.

Additionally, Town staff positions have increased from 103 in 2013 to 175 in 2023, and the Town Council recently approved 5 new hires. This massive increase in Town staff occurred in spite of the fact that our Town's population has stayed flat at around 10,000 residents for these past 10 years. Why the massive increase?

This proposed spending is fueled by the comprehensive plan to increase Town population by 50%, despite the fact that our Town’s population has stayed flat at around 10,000 residents for the past 10 years. This growth will be accomplished by allowing high density townhouses, multi-story apartments, and multi-family, multi-plex and residential infill in our commercial districts, meaning more traffic congestion, more infrastructure and more costs that must be borne by the taxpayer. It has been well established that new rooftops do NOT pay for themselves.

A key feature supporting this hyper-aggressive growth is the Town’s proposed plan to grab more land. The Town Council temporarily shelved its boundary line adjustment proposal, which would have increased the town's land area by 40%. If the current majority holds in the Town Council, there is a distinct possibility it will be reintroduced, even though opposition by citizens has been widespread.

So why should you be concerned?

The proposed budget and capital improvement plans put us on track to permanently change the small-town character of the Warrenton we all love. We all talk about not wanting to become Manassas, Gainesville or Leesburg. We need a Town Council to support our vision.

Where I Stand on Town Budget and Spending

If you’re like many of our neighbors here in Ward 5, this is the first time you’ve heard about this massive new budget proposal.

If elected to the Town Council, here is what I will do:

I will vote NO on this budget, on any future continuation of this big-spending budget, and on any unnecessary increases in Town spending;
I will vote against ANY increase in Town debt;
* I will vote against ANY increases in water/sewer bills;
I will work with my fellow council members to CUT excess and/or unnecessary Town government expenses and overhead

We all recognize this Town has a serious need for water and sewer upgrades to replace our aging infrastructure. However, the current budget calls for overbuilding these systems to accommodate a massive 50% population increase, using substantial sewer and water improvement costs as a Trojan Horse to “lock in” this aggressive growth for the future. Yet we know the Town does NOT have to grow anywhere nearly as aggressively to remain a vital, healthy and safe community.

Additionally, I support meaningful reductions in Town government spending: Reducing Town staff through attrition, a hiring freeze on new Town jobs, and deep cuts in Town spending and budget priorities.

We must take a hard look at right-sizing water and sewer system improvement projects to accommodate a more sensible growth path for our Town, and to serve the needs of Town residents now and in the future.

From all indications, my opponent, Jay Heroux, is on board with aggressive growth and the massive budget expansion proposed. That’s why he was the swing vote in approving the Amazon Web Services data center project, despite widespread citizen opposition.

He told me that “data is the new oil,” and he views data centers as fast, easy sources for new tax revenue to fund these aggressive Town growth projects.

However, it’s a proven fact that data centers are highly unreliable sources of tax revenue for local governments, since big corporations like Amazon can skillfully “game” the tax laws of any town to minimize the taxes they pay on their data centers, take advantage of built-in tax incentives, and then pay less over the years as their computer equipment depreciates in value, resulting in a steady decline in tax revenues over a few short years, compared to other sources of income, such as retail, businesses, or meals taxes.

My other opponent, Karen Lavarnway, also supports continuation of this big-spending Town budget, and she gives no indication of working to bring Town spending growth under control. Like Jay Heroux, she is fully on board with the Town's ever expanding number of employees, budget, and growth priorities.

Just like any household, our Town needs to manage its finances responsibly, and to make sensible choices on future growth needs—NOT to embark on hyper-growth outlook that will turn Warrenton into another suburbanized version of Manassas, Gainesville, or Fairfax.

Stopping Massive Increases to Our Water and Sewer Bills
Our Water and Sewer Bills are Already Too High—Ready for A 200% Increase? Here's How We Stop This

Consultants to the Town recommend the Town increase our water and sewer bills by more than 200% over the next few years, to partially cover the costs of upgrading our water and sewer systems.

In June, the Town Council voted for the first increase of 23% in our water and sewer bills, and this will be the first of many increases to come, if we don't stop them.

Were you consulted on any of this before their vote?

Were any alternatives, like cutting the Town budget, explored before making this decision?

The answers to both of these questions are NO and NO.

I don't know about you, but I already think our water/sewer bills are too high. Yes, our Town's water and sewer systems are aging and in need of repair, but the solution is not to put the burden on the backs of Town residents in the form of jacked-up water bills and more Town debt—especially when the current Town government has not considered obvious alternatives like cutting Town government expenses, reducing staff, or other meaningful steps to reduce the size of our bloated Town government.

Without exploring meaningful alternatives, the current Town leadership will continue to rubber-stamp every recommendation made to it by Town staff and their hired consultants, without listening to citizens who will be hit with these water and sewer bill increases.

We need to put an end to this NOW.

If elected, I promise to:

Vote NO on any increases to water and sewer rates;
Work with other like-minded Town Council members to develop budget and financing alternatives to meet our Town’s infrastructure repair needs, without placing this burden on the backs of Warrenton citizens;
Keep you fully informed on all proposed water and sewer projects and related financing proposals well in advance of any vote on these measures

For too long, this Town government’s leadership has acted on its own, without truly listening to us, the citizens of Warrenton they took an oath to serve—and their recent water bill increase is another example of this.

It’s time we send them a message: A 200% increase in our water and sewer rates is unacceptable. Go back to the drawing board and find other ways to meet our Town’s infrastructure financing needs.

If you send me to the Town Council this November, you can count on me to deliver this message—and to act on it, with the help of other, like-minded Town Council members.

Right-Sizing Town Capital Improvement Projects
Making Smart Decisions on Necessary Town Water and Sewer Projects

We are told that this Town’s water and sewer infrastructure is in need of extensive repairs and upgrades to make up for several years of deferred maintenance.

Consultants to the Town recommend a major, $70 million upgrade program, over the next five years, which will result in:

The Town taking on $61 million in new bond debt—a 400% increase in Town debt
Increasing our water and sewer bills by more than 200% over their current rate

If you’re like me, you should be shocked and surprised by these developments.

As we all know, racking up more debt is never a good thing. Not for a family, and not for a Town. Part of the reason for all of this debt is that some in our Town government think that aggressive growth and expansion will cure our ills, whatever they are, and the solution is to “grow our way out of this problem,” whatever the problem is. This only brings more development, congestion, data centers, and guarantees the extinction of Warrenton’s small-town character.

For example, I don’t know about you, but I think our water and sewer bills are already too high—so I think it’s unacceptable for Town officials to contemplate an increase that will more than double our water and sewer bills over the next few years. In fact, it just approved a 25% increase in these rates in July.

There is also a concern that the $70 million price tag to build out our water and sewer system to accommodate the “projected” Town growth is much higher than it needs to be and will create a burden that most of us will not accept.

We need a time out. The massive increases to our financial risk and debt burden require that all of us, citizens, the Town administrative, and Town leadership:

Take more time to educate ourselves on this issue;
Get a second, independent opinion on the need, extent, cost, and timing of these repairs;
Explore financial and project phase-in alternatives to minimize the debt and economic impact for the Town and citizens
Develop alternative budget and cost-saving approaches to self-fund water, sewer, and infrastructure projects

As an entrepreneur and business owner for many years, I’ve learned the importance of agility in both thought and action, and to never accept that there is only one course of action in any situation.

Issues of great importance to our Town and to our citizens require far more than the cursory thinking and rubber-stamp. Did you know that the Mayor eliminated the standing finance committee? I support a deeper look at our budgetary requirements, involving citizens in the process, and ensuring that we’ve made the best decision to preserve small-town Warrenton while continuing with the infrastructure upgrades and repairs we need.

Sponsored and Paid for by Gagnon for Town Council