Plans To Locate Amazon Data Center In Frederick County Fell Apart Due To Disagreements

The County felt the online retailer was asking for too much.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Amazon’s plans to  build data centers in Frederick County fell apart because the county believed the online retailer was asking too much.  That’s according to Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon. “The County felt like what Amazon was asking for was more than they were willing to commit to both in probably terms of the timeline, and then the regulatory process: the permitting, inspections, the site plan,” Weldon says.

He says companies like Amazon often play hardball. They want  permits reviewed in an expedite manner, and they want their phone calls returned. “And the way they look at it is: ‘look, we’re bringing literally billions of dollars of tax revenues in your community. We expect to have a little bit of preferential treatment,'” says Weldon.

He said the County wasn’t willing to meet the company’s demands. “This deal sounds to me like County Executive {Jan} Gardner and maybe a majority of the County Council weren’t as comfortable making the kind of commitment that a company like Amazon demands,” says Weldon. d

Amazon had said it would provide an investment totaling $30-billion which would include some additional property tax revenue.

Weldon says the County could have done a lot with that additional revenue. “We could build every single school we need. We could upgrade every highway that we have. We could replace all of our bridges. We could upgrade all of our utility systems, ” he says.

In the end, Amazon decided to build its data centers in Loudon County, Virginia. “And so the jobs and the property tax revenue and infrastructure enhancement aren’t going to occur in southwestern Frederick County. They’re going to occur in the Dulles Tech Corridor,” says Weldon.

But Frederick County still has a thriving economy. “County Executive Gardner has been enthusiastically aggressive in pursuit of the life sciences companies that our Economic Development team at the County has been able to bring in,” he says. “Helen Propheter and her team are incredible and have shown great flexibility, creativity and dexterity in bringing in Kite Pharma, Ellume and the life sciences giants we’ve landed here over the last almost decade.” .

Helen Propheter is the Director of the County’s Office of Economic Development.

In order to lure future companies like Amazon, Weldon recommends the County revise its ordinance prohibiting changes in zoning six-months prior to an election.

By Kevin McManus