Prince William County planners are supporting a data center near Haymarket outside of the county’s overlay district.
The Planning Commission voted 6-2 on Wednesday to recommend approval of a data center on land previously planned for a townhome development.
Commissioners Patti McKay (Brentsville) and Joseph Fontanella Jr. (Coles) cast the dissenting votes.
CTP-I LLC is seeking a special-use permit and amendment to the conditions of a previous rezoning on a 45.46-acre portion of a 64.6-acre parcel for the data center. The land is east of Haymarket at the intersection of Catharpin Road and John Marshall Highway, which is Va. 55.
In 2002, the Board of Supervisors rezoned the land from agricultural to planned mixed development and granted a special-use permit for a town center. The rezoning allowed up to 475 units and 650,200 square feet of office and commercial space.
The new permit and change to the rezoning conditions would keep the existing 222 residential units on the site and allow 1.19 million square feet for a data center and 60,000 square feet of office space. The data center uses would be spread among four structures.
The parcel is in the county’s development area, but outside of the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District, which is 10,000 acres that were designated in 2015 to support data centers. The permit is required for a data center outside of the overlay district.
Data centers are the hot topic in Prince William County, with some residents worried the industry will reach into the county’s rural area.
Based on 2018 data, the industry led to 1,786 full-time jobs and $292 million in economic output in the count, according to the Data Center Coalition. The average salary of those jobs was more than $127,000.
Sherman Patrick Jr., director of zoning and entitlements for Compton & Duling, presented the proposal on behalf of the applicant. He said the project would provide 300 jobs during construction and add 200 permanent jobs with an average salary of $125,000. He said the project would generate $79 million in tax revenue to the county over nine years.
The project would come with a $728,176 contribution to offset the impact on water quality and emergency services.
Patrick touted the plan for providing more open space than is currently required and would have greater setbacks. The project would be set back 200 feet from John Marshall Highway and 190 feet from Village High Street.
Although it won’t be substantially increasing traffic, Patrick said the project would still make infrastructure improvements promised along John Marshall Highway. It includes an additional eastbound through lane, a trail along the road, crosswalks and traffic signal improvements.
The plan comes with a 2.12-acre open space near the existing residential units.
Much of Wednesday’s meeting focused on existing energy needs. Patrick said the facility would be served by existing infrastructure and new transmission towers wouldn’t be needed.
Electrical infrastructure was a sticking point during a public hearing prior to the vote. Haymarket Town Manager Chris Coon cautioned the commission to ensure power costs wouldn’t be shifted to town residents. He said the applicant has met once with the town.
Haymarket council member Bob Weir disagreed with Sherman and said the location doesn’t have the proper electrical infrastructure to support a data center.
“This application is a clear example of why the data center overlay district was created,” he said. “Enough is enough. Everytime one of these comes up, it puts the county residents at risk and their property values at risk.”
The proposal will next head to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote at a future date.