Stevensburg residents shape their future

At PEC, we value the power of community engagement. We believe that local decisions matter and that informed and involved communities are vital to achieving positive outcomes. During the fall of 2022, residents in Culpeper County provided a case in point.

For many years, Culpeper has maintained a strong rural character in the face of development pressures. Recently, these pressures have been particularly intense in one part of the county, Stevensburg. Stevensburg is home to a tight-knit agricultural community and contains the village of Brandy Station, the site of one of the mostsignificant cavalry battles of the American Civil War.

Looking west toward Stevensburg and Rt. 3. Photo by Hugh Kenny/PEC

The Stevensburg area has been eyed as a potential location for data center development, abetted by a tax incentive program to develop new industrial facilities at Brandy Station. In early 2022, Culpeper County approved a controversial rezoning of 243 acres of farmland, along Rt. 3 near Stevensburg, for Marvell Development, a subsidiary of Amazon Web Services. Later that same year, AttoTek Inc submitted an application for a data center campus on a farm near the heart of Brandy Station. This proposal would have necessitated the construction of a new transmission line through several miles of private property, spreading its impact throughout theStevensburg District.

With the help of local community leaders and organizations, PEC informed the residents of Stevensburg and Brandy Station about the potential impacts of the AttoTek Data Center campus. Residents of Brandy Station showed up with such force at the public hearing that the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the data center application, and the developer ultimately withdrew the application. By raising awareness within the community, PEC was able to help facilitate a Comprehensive Plan amendment so that the historic and agricultural resources of Brandy Station were properly recognized and the tax incentive was removed.

Fresh off of that win, local residents are advocating for additional land conservation surrounding the nearby Culpeper Battlefields State Park, a 1,700-acre public park approved by the General Assembly in 2022 to commemorate the Battle of Brandy Station and other pivotal battles fought around the nearby Rappahannock River.