Local residents in Virginia’s Prince William Country are seeking to sell their land to an unnamed data center developer.

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– Google Maps

InsideNoVa reports residents of Sanders Lane outside Gainesville are seeking to assemble and sell their properties to a data center developer.

Residents are seemingly looking to copy the efforts of landowners on nearby Pageland Lane, who clubbed together to sell more than 2,000 acres to QTS and Compass for a massive new data center development.

An email obtained by InsideNoVa from the Catharpin Committee, a community organization working to arrange the assemblage effort, informed neighbors this week the committee has 'garnered substantial support from residents', held several conferences with a potential buyer, and is working toward options to purchase the land.

Gainesville Supervisor Bob Weir confirmed to InsideNoVa that an assemblage effort is indeed proceeding on Sanders Lane.

The identity of the potential buyer has not been disclosed. Details on which parcels and the total acreage are on offer aren’t known at this point.

A new PW Digital Gateway?

In 2021 and 2022, residents along Prince William County’s Pageland Lane decided to sell a huge landbank to QTS and Compass that will see the two companies develop up to 22.8 million sq ft (2.1 million sqm) of data centers under a project known as the PW Digital Gateway.

The project was initiated by the local landowner, land broker, and commercial real estate consultant Mary Ann Ghadban. Dismayed by the encroachment of data centers into the area, she decided to sell up. Initially, she managed to gather some 800 acres from residents along Pageland, before eventually seeing the project expanded to more than 2,100 acres.

Sanders Lane is located directly north of Pageland Land, on the opposite side of Sudley Road/on State Route 234. Like Pageland, it is largely rural land adjacent to a power transmission line. It falls under the Catharpin unincorporated community.

Josiah Hunter, who is part of the Catharpin Committee, told InsideNoVa: “We knew development would come one day. It’s just kind of natural for where we live.”

Last year the Prince William Times reported efforts were being made to gather support for a land assemblage project. More than 100 residents along Sanders Lane gathered at Hunter’s home in April 2022 to gauge interest.

Any official proposals are likely to be highly unpopular. The PW Gateway project was met with fierce resistance from locals who objected to the idea due to the potential impact on the rural area, its water table, and the nearby Manassas civil war battlefield.

Months of protests led to marathon council meetings with hundreds of residents speaking mostly against the development. And in the wake of local officials giving the initial ok to the rezoning application, legal challenges from opposition groups have followed alongside bills to stymie development by local representatives.

Local elections have quickly become barometers for data center development in the area, with many candidates promising strong stances against further projects.

Earlier this year Republican Bob Weir won the election to appoint a new supervisor to the Prince William County board after campaigning on an anti-data center platform.

This week Prince William County Chair Ann Wheeler – one of the staunchest proponents of the PW Gateway project, lost in a Democrat primary election to newcomer and data center opponent Deshundra Jefferson. Jefferson will face Republican Jeannine Lawson in General Election this November. Lawson is also against data centers being built in rural areas, despite having previously been in favor of some projects within the county.