Prince William County's planning commission has voted 6-1 to table a proposal for a data center in Gainesville until late January.
The vote pauses the development of a data center project proposed by CTP-II LLC. The shell company had hoped to rezone 22.72 acres from business and light industrial to office mid-rise to construct a data center, at the intersection of Catharpin Road and John Marshall Highway, on Route 55.
The data center would consist of two facilities, for around a $556 million capital investment, generating $41 million in tax revenue over 10 years. The true company behind the project is not yet known.
CTP-I LLC previously received approval for a separate data center on a 64-acre parcel across Route 55.
Locals raised concerns that the facility could necessitate huge overhead transmission lines that cut through minority communities. The applicant said that it would back out of the project if it “triggers the need for construction of new transmission towers carrying overhead bulk electric transmission lines from west of the property.”
The planning commission voted to delay the second project in Northern Virginia, amid growing pushback over the number of high-voltage power lines built to support the world's data center hotspot.
In May, the Board of Supervisors voted to spend $120,000 on a consultant to study areas to expand the district along high-voltage transmission power lines. The study will also look at areas to expand the district, changes to construction standards, the Comprehensive Plan and the zoning ordinance, along other effects from data centers.
Gainesville Commissioner Richard Berry told Inside Nova that data center proposals need to be put on hold while the study is completed.
“I don’t think we should be approving more data centers outside of the overlay district until the county’s study is done,” he said. “Taking action now is premature while the study is ongoing.”
Karen Sheehan, representing the Coalition to Protect Prince William County, said Gainesville and Haymarket are being “overrun by data centers, transmission lines, and substations.”
“I welcome change. I welcome progress. I want to see changes that are to the benefit of all county citizens,” she said. “No buffers of any depth will hide massive buildings that don’t belong where they’re proposed.”