Bristow data center proposal

The areas shaded in blue are proposed for "flexible-use employment" zoning.

Another request for a data center is moving forward in Prince William County.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-1 to move forward with a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for a 4.2-million-square-foot data center near Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow.

Supervisor Kenny Boddye, D-Occoquan, cast the dissenting vote but did not comment on the proposal.

The application covers 269 acres and comes from Stanley Martin Homes, which appears to be abandoning its plan for 551 homes in favor of the data center project.

The request is to change the designation of the property in the Comprehensive Plan from suburban residential low to flexible-use employment center.

The application, submitted Feb. 11, comes ahead of a planned rezoning application, which has not yet been filed. However, county staff indicated the rezoning application was pending.

A Comprehensive Plan amendment only changes what the county says it hopes for future use of the land. It does not bind the county, the board or the landowners to any guaranteed future uses. The properties would still require zoning approval to allow data centers.

However, if the Comprehensive Plan amendment is approved first, one of the factors weighing in favor of a rezoning application would be its consistency with the plan.

Over the past year, developers and landowners have been using the Comprehensive Plan amendment process to essentially receive preliminary support for their projects before submitting formal rezonings and land-use plans. The process is being used for developments such as the Kline Farm, PW Digital Gateway and another data center in Nokesville.

In early 2020, Stanley Martin submitted a rezoning application for the three parcels to allow 551 single-family homes. The request was to change the properties from agricultural to planned mixed residential zoning.

The Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning in March 2020 despite opposition from residents and the Prince William County School Board.

At the time, the property was owned by Edith Rameika, trustee of the EV Hunter Trust. Since then, Stanley Martin has acquired the property for nearly $51.3 million.

Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, said the proposal could be a better fit for the area than residential. She said the property has a limestone bed and would require more intense work for residential construction compared to a data center.

Lawson also noted the property is near Jiffy Lube Live.

“We don’t want to put a lot of residential next to this large concert venue if we don’t have to,” she said.

Correction: A previous headline for this story incorrectly stated a rezoning for this project was approved. While the Comprehensive Plan amendment has been approved, the rezoning request is pending.

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

(1) comment

Robert Dale

"She said the property has a limestone bed and would require more intense work for residential construction compared to a data center." That is false. More intense work to make residential properties as opposed to a data center? Excavation for data centers goes several stories underground. The foundational requirements for such monolithic structures is massive. What is more intense is the cost to remove the limestone bed and the ability for the removing party to make a profit for doing so. When the reason for a thing is presented as a half-truth, one must wonder at the validity of the whole.

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