Ahead of a vote tonight on an application to rezone a large tract of land in Bristow for a controversial data center project, at least one member of the Democratic majority of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors is expressing skepticism.
Supervisor Kenny Boddye, D-Occoquan, said Tuesday morning that he has “many unresolved concerns” about the proposed rezoning that, if approved, would allow up to 14 new data centers on 270 acres near Devlin and Linton roads A hall that is currently zoned. residential.
The area proposed for the data center development, called “Devlin Technology Park,” is right next to Chris Yung Elementary School and is close to several neighborhoods, including Amberleigh Station, Silver Leaf Estates, Lanier Farms , Sheffield Manor, Crossman’s Creek and Victory Lakes.
“I was very skeptical about data center development in this particular area, especially so close to homes and schools and public-facing retail,” Boddye said in an interview Tuesday morning. “Unless significant changes have been made to this project, I’m not keen to support it.”
The rezoning, which is on the agenda for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors meeting at 7:30 tonight, Tuesday, February 7, has drawn strong opposition from area residents. The opponents have organized a protest outside the James J. McCoart Administration Building, along Prince William Parkway, at 5 pm, and will hold a press conference before the meeting.
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During a town hall meeting on the project held at Chris Yung Elementary School last Thursday, February 2, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, who represents the district, said she would appeal to her fellow supervisors – and especially Boddye – to vote against the district. project.
Lawson told the Prince William Times last week that the project does not have its support because of the impact it has on the nearby neighborhoods. Lawson asked developer Stanley Martin to reduce the size and number of data center buildings and increase the distance between residential property lines and the proposed data centers. Currently, the rezoning request only calls for 100-foot setbacks.
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Boddye was the only supervisor to vote against a rezoning and comprehensive plan amendment in September 2021 that would have blocked a new data center campus on part of the nearby “Hunter property.” At that time, supervisors approved data centers for 196 acres behind Amberleigh Station and Silver Leaf Estates. The area is adjacent to another 262 acres included in the Prince William County Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay Area, where data centers are permitted by right.
At the Feb. 2 town hall meeting, Lawson said she believes Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, will also vote against rezoning the Devlin Technology Park. Vega voted against a comprehensive plan amendment related to the Prince William Digital Gateway, a controversial data center corridor slated for about 2,100 acres near Manassas National Battlefield Park and in the former rural crescent.
But because the county board currently has only seven members – instead of the usual eight – only four votes are needed to approve Devlin’s proposal instead of the usual five.
The eighth seat is vacant because of December give up of former supervisor Pete Candland who left due to conflict of interest issues. candland a contract was signed sold his own house and land to a data center developer involved with PW Digital Gateway about a year before he resigned.
The board’s five Democratic supervisors, who make up a majority of the eight-member board, voted in favor of the PW Digital Gateway project last November as well as other data center rezoning during the past three years in office.
But it was not immediately clear Tuesday morning how the other four Democrats — Board Chairwoman Ann Wheeler (Go Mór), and Supervisors Victor Angry (Neabsco), Andrea Bailey (Potomac) and Margaret Franklin (Woodbridge) — followed Park. Devlin Technology. No one answered emails from the Prince William Times last week seeking comment on his positions on the rezoning.
The area in question has long been part of what has long been known as the “Hunter property”. When the Board approved rezoning for data centers in the area in 2021, they did so in part because part of the property – about 260 acres – was already included in the county’s Data Center Opportunity Overlay District. The overlay district of about 10,000 acres in western Prince William County is an area where data centers are permitted by right, meaning they do not require approval from the county board.
Before that 2021 vote, housing developer Stanley Martin won rezoning in 2020 build up to 516 single family homes on the 270 acre parcel that is the subject of tonight’s rezoning vote.
In early 2022, Stanley Martin filed a request with the county that the area could be rezoned for data centers.
The plan remains unpopular among area residents. More than 150 people attended a series of meetings held by Stanley Martin last week in January to explain the benefits of the project as well as its promises to mitigate the impact of the data centers on nearby residents.
But residents were not convinced. Some people expressed concern that the rezoning would bring industrial to a residential area. The plan allows for up to 14 data centers as high as 80 feet with an additional 15 feet of rooftop mechanical equipment. Many people have also expressed concern about the noise of the data center and the general disruption of years of construction work that will require blasting the area’s rocky landscape.
In his rezoning application, Stanley Martin is pleading that future data centers keep their noise under county noise ordinance limits or face a county zoning violation, which carries a maximum fine of $5,000.
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Lawson and other residents have said they doubt the county would have the ability to enforce such a commitment, even if it is written into the legally binding rezoning proffer agreement.
During the town hall meeting on Thursday, February 2, Lawson said she asked Stanley Martin representatives how the professor regarding noise limits would be implemented. “’Does a SWAT team sound like noise? Like the Ghostbusters?’” Lawson said she asked the developers. “Because it isn’t.”