After Orange Township residents sounded off last week about a proposed data-center complex, township trustees advised the applicant to consider additional ways to mitigate noise at the site.

After Orange Township residents sounded off last week about a proposed data-center complex, township trustees advised the applicant to consider additional ways to mitigate noise at the site.

Trustees met March 18 to discuss a rezoning request for a 74-acre site at the southwest corner of Home Road and U.S. Route 23, but did not vote on the matter. A yet-to-be named developer plans to construct five 150,000-square-foot data centers and a 40,000-square-foot office building at the site as part of an effort known as Project Sandstone.

Vadata, an Amazon subsidiary, sought and received a 15-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement to build a data center within Orange Township from the Delaware County Board of Commissioners last fall. The company also has sought incentives to build data-center projects in Dublin and Hilliard.

Istvan Gajary, an attorney representing 11 neighboring property owners, told the trustees that required testing for 110 diesel generators at the site likely will violate local noise regulations. Representatives for the applicant -- listed as Home High LLC on documents -- have said that each generator, which will serve as a backup power supply for the centers, will be tested once per week for 15 minutes.

"We have serious concerns that they're not going to be able to meet their noise standards," Gajary said.

Jack Van Kley, an environmental lawyer working with Gajary, said residents are concerned about the generators, but also the constant noise expected from the complex's regular operations.

"A noise study recently performed by the applicant's engineering firm has identified over 3,100 noise sources at this proposed facility," he said.

Van Kley said the developer also incorrectly identified 55 decibels as the township's limit for noise at the site's property lines. He said the limit should be based on federal Environmental Protection Agency standards and set closer to 40 decibels.

Architect Mark Ford, representing the developer, said it needed time to study and respond to Van Kley's claims. After hearing concerns about the complex's noise level from township's trustees, Ford asked the board to delay a vote on the rezoning request until April 13.

"We would appreciate the opportunity to explore other possible solutions," he said.

Trustee Lisa Knapp said she has serious reservations about the noise level at the site and asked the developer to consider further ways to shield residents from the complex's operations. She suggested the developer research whether earthen mounds and masonry walls could be implemented at the site as noise-control measures.

"That noise is unacceptable," she said. "I cannot vote 'yes' at all for something that's 55 decibels. Just sitting in my house and hearing a lawn mower for an hour or a leaf blower five houses away is annoying."

Knapp asked whether the applicant had considered building the complex on the east side of Route 23, closer to other office and commercial developments.

"It looks like an industrial compound and it's right there in a really beautiful part of our township, and I'm not sure it belongs there," she said of the current proposal.

Knapp said the applicant's sites in Dublin and Hilliard border industrial uses, not residential neighborhoods.

Ford said the developer is committed to building on the site west of Route 23 because it has needed utilities available and is farther away from railroad activity, which the applicant considers potentially hazardous to the data center's operations.

Trustee Debbie Taranto said she knows state and Delaware County officials are excited about bringing the data-center project to central Ohio, but added she was elected to protect the quality of life currently enjoyed by township residents.

"I'm not sure that Orange Township, economically, is getting a whole lot from this project, but it is costing us quite bit," she said.

Ford said the data center, in some ways, would affect its neighbors less than a shopping center. He said the development of the data center would lead to the preservation of more green space, while adding fewer additional cars to nearby roadways.

"You won't have all of that transient traffic and related noise," he said.