thumbnail_IMG_8487.jpg Blaine Pearsall

Blaine Pearsall, in tan jacket, second from right, urges his fellow Prince William Historical Commissioners to press county officials on why they want to open areas in the Manassas Battlefield Historic District to data centers. 

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Areas within the Prince William Digital Gateway study area are included in the Manassas Battlefield Historic District. The Prince William Historical Commission recommends that no changes be made to county zoning below the yellow line. 

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A map of the Prince William Digital Gateway area separated into northern and southern areas as designated by the Prince William County Historical Commission. The historical commission recommends that the southern portion of the plan (in yellow) remain unchanged from its current land-use designations or that the plan be denied by the planning commission and the board of supervisors.

thumbnail_IMG_8496.jpg Earnie Porta Historical commission

Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, a member of the Prince William County Historical Commission, discusses how the commission should express its concerns before the supervisors’ Nov. 1 vote on the Prince William Digital Gateway. 

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Land-use designations proposed for the Prince William Digital Gateway area by the Prince William County Planning Department.

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(5) comments


The strategy has always been obvious. Approve it fast before people realize what's going on. Now that there is a laundry list of problems in every possible category related to this project, it must be stopped.


It is not enough to delay this decision. It should be re examined by the Planning Commission. If the county is the applicant, the judge and the jury that leaves the public totally out of this decision. The county government should be a neutral body not an advocate for a project that they can approve.


Once this is rejected or withdrawn we need to settle how to protect the rural crescent and the park. Some think it is a temporary thing, others moved here because the county designated it as rural. Or, make the entire county a data center zone and no one will fight it, Fairfax, Fauquier and Loudoun may object but, heck, they don't vote here. $250T for every acre in PWC. Imagine $510M for Uncle Sam if the feds sell the battlefield. We could cancel all school debt? Woohoo. Not.


Interestingly the battlefield will actually gain almost 10 new acres from the PWDG which will bring it to its CONGRESSIONALLY MANDATED MAXIMUM SIZE ALLOWED.

Let's be honest nothing says the 1861/1862/Civil War like 115" foot high power towers and wires hanging from them on the Western edge of the battlefield, the 26,000 cars per day that roll right through the heart of the battlefield every day or the thousands of cars that clog Pageland Lane every day. As has been said many times before not a single blade of grass will be touched within the boundaries of the MNBP and what's on the other side of that boundary line is known as private property. These 2133 acres do not sit within any historical or environmental easements. The MNBP is protected today and will continue to be when the PWDG is developed.


Is the Prince William Historical Commission yet another informed organization to be ignored by the lemmings running our county government? If so, they’re in good company with the Prince William County Watershed Management Branch, Manassas National Battlefield Park, the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development, the Fairfax County Water Authority, the Sierra Club, the National Parks Conservation Association and on and on and on.

I was present at the meeting on October 3rd where members of the Planning Office staff were present. On two occasions, I heard staff members cite “Supervisor priorities” when rationalizing a Planning Office position dismissive of historical preservation concerns.

The Supervisors are elected officials and perfectly empowered to vote as they choose when a proposal reaches them. However, it is the duty of professional government staff to make fact-based assessments, free of political influence, when preparing their recommendations. When Supervisors extend their reach into what is supposed to be an impartial review process, it corrupts the integrity of that process and undermines the credibility of the outcome. The predictable result is public skepticism and acrimony.

One of the Historical Commission members summed up the Prince William Digital Gateway concisely: “It’s a horrible plan, promoted by developers and people who are going to get filthy rich by it. If we allow developers to dictate the future of Prince William County, it’s not a smart move and it’s certainly not in the public interest.”

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