Construction of Facebook’s new multi-million-dollar data center in Gallatin will be allowed to continue overnight for at least 22 weeks despite noise concerns from some area residents.
The Gallatin City Council approved a request from DPR Construction last week that allows the company to perform nightly rock drilling and rock crushing operations at the site Monday through Friday from Sept. 15 until Feb. 15.
“This isn’t the normal all-day construction that is going on out there,” Mayor Paige Brown said prior to the vote. “I really don’t think that there is a noise violation that will occur based on the decibel readings that they have out there.”
While an extension can be granted by the city’s building official and police department without the need for additional permission from the city council, Brown added that city leaders have the authority to stop overnight work at the site if it became a nuisance to residents in the area.
Crews have constructed a 40-foot-tall berm around the rock-crushing equipment to help dampen sound from the equipment, according to Jeff Mason, project executive for DPR Construction. Equipment to monitor the sound levels of work at the site has also been installed around the property.
“This night variance is specific to rock drilling in certain locations on the site and rock crushing and that is it,” Mason told the city council last month. “Both of those activities are required to support the daytime earthwork and blasting operations. Essentially, the rock drilling equipment is required to stay ahead of the blasting requirements.”
Blasting will take place daily between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., according to officials with the Gallatin Economic Development Agency.
In recent weeks, several area residents have expressed concerns about the overnight work planned at the site and how it could potentially disrupt the sleep of them and their families.
“I can recognize that this is Facebook and that they want to speed up their construction,” Hartsville Pike resident Rick Haynes told city leaders during a committee meeting on Aug. 25. “I can certainly appreciate that, but I don’t appreciate it being done at the expense of citizens and people who live nearby.
“We have young kids that are still in school, we have parents that work across this area and the impact to them is certainly not worth this project trying to save money or at least speed up the progress.”
Prior to voting on the request, members of the city council were offered individual tours of the construction site so they could hear how loud the drilling and rock crushing operations would be. The Gallatin News also requested a tour but was denied.
District 1 Councilwoman Lynda Bradley Love said last week that “the noise of the cicadas in the trees was far louder than any sound that we heard” from the construction work.
“I was really concerned when I went out there, but after going out there and seeing the operation, seeing how well that it was managed… it convinced me,” District 3 Councilman Jimmy Overton added. “People can’t hear it when this thing is running at night. There is no way you can hear it.”
Facebook announced last month that it will build an $800 million state-of-the-art data center in Gallatin. The 982,000-square-foot facility will be located on approximately 809 acres off of Hartsville Pike between Roundtree Drive and Brights Lane.
Work on the project is expected to continue through 2023 and will involve more than 1,100 construction workers on site at its peak.
“We are working closely with DPR Construction to implement measures that would ensure our neighbors are not impacted by the construction work,” Facebook spokeswoman Melanie Roe said. “We are committed to being a good neighbor and to making sure we have a positive impact on the communities that host us.”