Council members in favor of the change were Chris Owens, Mike Kennedy, Donald Mitchell and Mayor David Belle Isle, and in opposition were Michael Cross, Jim Gilvin and D.C. Aiken.
According to the second reading of the change, a data center is now defined within the city as “a building or complex of buildings in which a substantial portion of the gross square footage is dedicated to the housing of computer or data processing equipment or systems.”
The new definition also said buildings should be a minimum of 20 feet in height, chain link fences should not be visible from roadways, buildings must be more than 100 feet away from roadways and a 40-foot, heavily-planted landscape buffer is required along public roadways.
Buildings and landscapes will also be required to match or complement nearby buildings and landscapes.
Belle Isle said he believes data centers are very important to the city right now.
“I think it could be dramatically different in terms of the demand for space in the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.
“The hope is that, should it have to be converted to some other use, it doesn’t look like a metal or stone shed.”
Owens agreed, saying the new definition is written to give city staff flexibility in assigning design regulations based on the location of the building.
Council approved the first reading of the ordinance 5-1 on May 27 after tabling it May 12. Cross opposed the vote on the first reading, while Gilvin and Mitchell were absent.
At the May 12 meeting, Kathi Cook, deputy director of community development, said the reason for including a definition for data centers in the city’s code is to create consistency.
But Cross said he was concerned that the definition would limit the number of data centers allowed within the city or impose unnecessary design regulations on the property owners.