IT data center proposed for Perry Township

PERRY TOWNSHIP — A potential data center could bring millions of dollars in revenue to Perry Township, proponents say, but it remains to be seen whether or not township residents and officials are on board.

Representatives from Allen Economic Development Group recently met with Perry Township trustees to discuss interest from an as-of-yet unnamed Fortune 500 company interested in constructing a data center on the east side of state Route 65 between Breese and Hume Roads. According to the published minutes from the board of trustees’ May 21 meeting, AEDG noted that the area is ideal geographically given its close proximity to Interstate 75 while also being located along a state highway. The low tax value on the properties under consideration, as well as sufficient access to water and other infrastructure needs, also makes the site more attractive for investment.

In order to move forward on the project, the affected properties, currently zoned I-2 for industrial manufacturing, would have to be modified to add a data center as a potential application of that zoning designation.

“[The project] would be extremely advantageous to Perry Township in that it would widen the tax base, would bring really good jobs to the area and would be a significant community support for businesses in the township and for the whole county,” AEDG President and CEO Dave Stratton said.

That support could be in the range of annual tax revenues of $750,000 for the township and more than $2.4 million for the school district, according to the May meeting notes. This is not counting any potential tax abatements, which have not yet been discussed.

Stratton noted that the project could take up as much as 350 acres and that the company would work with the Allen County Port Authority to acquire it should the zoning regulations be modified.

“Much of our tax base comes from the manufacturing center,” Stratton said. “We would like to expand the sectors of business within Allen County to include the IT sector, and this would help us to do that. The company that’s interested is a well-known company that would be very community-minded and supportive of the schools.”

Some township residents expressed concerns about the potential data center at the May board meeting. Vivian Wilson said that she has lived in the township since 2018 because she “looked forward to moving to a country setting,” the meeting notes said. She also called on township officials to research data centers in places like Kansas and other areas, concluding by saying she would not continue to live in the township if the project is approved.

Nancy Jones expressed concerns about the potential noise that a data center could bring to that area, as well as the impact of heavy construction equipment and increased traffic on Breese, Hume and Greely Chapel Roads. Brandon Cornwell also suggested that the project be voted on by township residents.

Any changes to the zoning regulations must be initiated by the landowner, the board of trustees or the township’s zoning board, according to township zoning inspector John Brewster. The process would also include multiple public meetings on the amendment, which would mean that any potential change would take several months to be up for final approval and come into effect.

Perry Township trustees Kevin Cox and Gregory Kessen did not respond to requests for comment. Trustee Larry Sidener declined to comment on the matter but did say that the trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township house, 2408 E. Breese Road, Lima, and that there will be the opportunity for public comment at the meeting.

Editor David Trinko contributed to this story.