The following text was sent out via email on June 3, 2022. Sign up for PEC email alerts →
Last November, PEC wrote about the threats posed to Prince William County’s long-standing Rural Crescent by three major land use decisions. Since then, the conversation around data centers near Manassas Battlefield has repeatedly made national news headlines and filled the op-ed sections of the local paper. All three of these proposals present real concerns for the residents of Prince William and its Northern Virginia neighbors.
What’s at risk? We’re concerned about impacts on drinking water quality (Occoquan Reservoir), wildlife habitat, the agricultural economy, historic resources, heritage tourism, and the rural atmosphere as a whole. In addition, costly infrastructure projects to expand utilities and other services would leave taxpayers footing the bill—and dealing with the resulting traffic congestion—for years to come.
For those who haven’t been following closely, I’ve briefly summarized the latest updates below.
- Digital Gateway and Road Expansion – The Prince William Digital Gateway is a plan for a data center corridor and major road expansion along Pageland Lane consisting of 1) a comprehensive plan amendment designating a 2,133-acre study area for 27 million square feet of data center development and widening rural Pageland Lane to a divided four lane road to accommodate new projected traffic, and 2) a rezoning proposal allowing 7.9 million square feet of those data centers to be built on 812 acres within that study area.
- Substantial Comprehensive Plan Changes – The County is currently in the midst of a significant update to its comprehensive plan. The draft land use and sanitary sewer plans for the update would effectively eliminate the Rural Crescent by designating a substantial amount of agricultural land for suburban/industrial development and permitting the extension of water and sewer lines throughout virtually the entire County. The plan also includes a large new industrial area along Rt. 28 just west of Nokesville on the Fauquier/Prince William County line.
- Expansion of the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay – The County is currently considering an expansion of the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay, areas where the County has already determined data centers would be most appropriate and permitting of the use is streamlined. With several data centers outside of this overlay already approved or currently in process it is very likely the County will expand the overlay into the rural areas of the County. This push is at odds with continued reporting that there is already plenty of land in the current overlay district to accommodate data center development and that Prince William is on track to overtake Loudoun’s data center development even without the approval of the 2,133 acres in Digital Gateway.
We’ve provided more information about these proposals on our website. Their effects on transportation and land use will be felt throughout the region, not just in Prince William County.
Residents in adjacent counties who are concerned about transportation impacts or pollution to the Occoquan Reservoir should reach out to their local elected officials directly. If you are a resident of Prince William, ask that the Supervisors recognize the importance of conserving the Rural Crescent for the entire County, and demand that they change course.
- Attend or submit comments for the Board of Supervisors work session on June 7 at 2 p.m., which will involve a discussion on whether to study the Digital Gateway’s watershed impacts. This is critically important because a preliminary analysis commissioned by the National Parks Conservation Association suggests that rezoning for the Digital Gateway could result in 28,000-37,000 more tons of sediment and additional stormwater with a variety of pollutants such as salt flowing into the Occoquan Reservoir, a drinking water source for over 800,000 people in Northern Virginia, including much of eastern Prince William County.
- Write the Board of Supervisors and urge them to:
- Conduct a water study to determine the potential impacts the Digital Gateway proposal will have on public drinking water resources.
- Vote NO to sprawling data center development in the rural areas of Prince William County.
- Vote NO to allowing public sewer lines to be extended throughout the rural area of the County.
- Vote NO to widening Pageland Lane and other construction projects linked to the Bi-County Parkway.
- Vote NO to developing the Rural Crescent of Prince William County.
Note: This form letter will only work if you have a Prince William County address!
If you have any questions about these proposals, please do not hesitate to reach out! PEC is working with local partners to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.
Julie Bolthouse, AICP
Director of Land Use
(540) 347-2334 x7042