Virginia plan to develop data centers receives approval amid opposition from environmentalists

Data centers are a revenue boon to local governments but face complaints from VA neighbors and conservationists

A plan to redevelop a rural swath of northern Virginia into data centers has received approval after a marathon public hearing that stretched through the night.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted 5-2 Wednesday morning in support of the plan over the opposition of environmentalists and conservationists.

Data centers that provide the backbone for the rapid increase in cloud computing have proliferated in northern Virginia, which has long been a technology hub.

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The data centers have proven to be a revenue boon to local governments, but neighbors have complained about noise and environmentalists have expressed concern about the massive amounts of electricity that data centers consume.

In Prince William County, concern also centered around the viewshed for nearby Manassas National Battlefield Park.

A plan to redevelop a northern Virginia area into data centers has been approved following a hearing that stretched late into the night.

A plan to redevelop a northern Virginia area into data centers has been approved following a hearing that stretched late into the night.

Supporters of the plan said it could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and that the plan is designed in a way to accommodate environmental concerns.

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Republican supervisors Jeanine Lawson and Yesli Vega, who is running for Congress in a closely watched race, voted against the project.

The changes to the comprehensive plan that were approved Wednesday are not the final say. Individual projects within what's called the Prince William Digital Gateway will still need to seek approval, and supervisors who supported the change say the projects will be scrutinized to ensure environmental concerns are addressed.

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The final vote occurred just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, nearly 12 hours after discussion began and hundreds of county residents spoke, in both opposition and support.