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County announces 2 community meetings later this month on data center plans

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Prince William already has one of the largest concentrations of data centers in Virginia. The huge, windowless, box-shaped buildings house computer systems critical for running the internet. These data centers photographed here are along Va. 234 in the Manassas area.

Prince William County’s planning office will host two in-personcommunity meetings later this month on proposals to replan about 2,000 acres near the Manassas Battlefield National Park for data centers and to expand the county’s existing “data center overlay district” to make more room for the giant buildings around the county. 

The meetings “will be an opportunity for the public to provide in-person comments on the proposal,” according to the county’s website. 

The public can weigh in on a proposed expansion of the existing, 10,000-acre data center overlay district during the first meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, at the Beacon Hall Conference Center on George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus in Manassas. 

The meeting on the controversial PW Digital Gateway” proposal is planned for the following Thursday, Jan. 27, also at the Beacon Hall Conference Center on the GMU Manassas campus.  

The PW Digital Gateway is a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that could allow data centers to be built on 2,133 acres near Manassas National Battlefield Park and Conway Forest in western Prince William County. The property is currently zoned agricultural or “A1” and is part of the county’s “rural crescent,” where development is generally limited to one home per 10 acres and where access to public sewer lines is restricted. Those stipulations that have prevented industrial uses, such as data centers, from locating in the rural crescent. 

The starting time of the Jan. 27 meeting has not yet been posted.  

Prince William County supervisors directed county staff in May to re-examine the county’s data center overlay district for a potential expansion.  

The county’s existing data center overlay district encompasses around 10,000 acres in western Prince William County where data center construction is allowed byright. The expansion is needed because suitable land for future data centers within the existing district is running out, according to Prince William County Department of Economic Development Director Christina Winn 

The proposed new map has not yet been developed.  

Photo_News_2021Stories_data center.jpg

Land near University Boulevard and Interstate 66 was recently cleared for Gainesville Crossing, a major data center development now under way in western Prince William County.

Prince William County Planning Director Rebecca Horner said a new map will be created after the planning office has received public input.  

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(1) comment


1. The 300-person capacity Beacon Hall Conference Center is not of sufficient size for these meetings.

2. There may be social distancing requirements that will reduce the capacity further.

3. The size of this venue is a deterrent to attendance considering the current COVID situation.

4. Why can't they use the larger Hylton Center?

5. Better still, why can't these events be postponed until the COVID situation stabilizes?

6. This technique has been used in the past to hinder true public participation. They’ll have “stations” that divide people up into different areas so they can defuse the anticipated anger. If they had theatre style seating, one person can speak out and EVERYONE hears what that person says. When you are divided up you can only make points within your little group while standing there looking at some propaganda on an information board.

7. This is designed to suppress public outcry, check a box, and railroad these awful ideas through.


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