Opponents of Delaware data center file appeal

 An artist's conception of The Data Centers project (photo courtesy TDC)

An artist's conception of The Data Centers project (photo courtesy TDC)

The group Newark Residents Against the Power Plant have joined with the Delaware Audubon Society to appeal the conditional approval decision Newark leaders made last month.

The appeal was filed Monday with the Newark Board of Adjustment. The opponents are hinging their appeal to the definition of “accessory use” within Newark’s city code. The appeal calls the decision to give The Data Center’s power plant conditional approval “arbitrary, capricious, and/or contrary to the law.”

NRAPP believes that the construction of a power plant is not an acceptable accessory use and would negatively impact the neighborhoods nearby.

When the city granted conditional approval to TDC’s power plant plans in January, it was done with the requirement that would limit sales of excess power at the site to 30 percent of what the facility needs.

Opponents of the plan say Newark’s planning director, who made the conditional approval, does not have the power to make such restrictions. The appeal claims that the conditions are a de facto amendment of Newark’s city code. They say such an amendment would require action by Newark City Council, not just the planning director.

Last month, Newark City Manager Carol Houck pledged to be an active participant in the next step of the approval process as TDC works to get approval from Delaware environmental regulators. “The city, its legal counsel and consultants will take an active role with respect to The Data Centers, LLC’s pending air permit application with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,” said Houck.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell weighed in on the plans earlier this week in an interview on WHYY-FM’s Radio Times. Markell said as long as everything is done within the environmental code, he welcomes the jobs it will create. “You put people to work, you’re in compliance with the environmental regulations, that’s worth strongly considering,” said Markell. “But in the end, they have to file their application with the Department of Natural Resources.”

The Data Center project has been the subject of hundreds of comments from the public and numerous hearings discussing the plans. Those plans include construction of a power plant to help run the 900,000 square foot facility.

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