Developers are seeking county approval for a proposed data center north of Interstate 66 in Gainesville.
With a 6-2 vote, the Prince William County Planning Commission recommended approval on Nov. 20 for the proposal by Gainesville GGP to build a data center and 12 acres of commercial space. The company is requesting to rezone 152.7 acres from agricultural to planned business district. The project includes an 8-acre electric substation.
The proposed location is south of U.S. Route 29 and north of I-66 between Pageland Lane and the intersection of Heathcote Boulevard and the I-66 exit 43B off-ramp. The property is near Manassas National Battlefield Park and Conway Robinson State Forest and next to a planned commuter lot.
The applicant agreed to donate $25,000 and a field to the National Battlefield Park. An earlier version of the company’s proposal included residential units, but that was cut from the project.
The applicant has agreed to contribute $2.8 million to the county for water quality and fire and rescue services. Ite has also offered to preserve 27.75 acres of trees.
Allowed commercial uses include a car wash, a medical care facility, motor vehicle service, retail and a drive-in restaurant.
An applicant representative told the planning commission that the company’s goal was to locate near existing and approved transmission lines. But some planning commission members were concerned whether Dominion Energy would be able to power the project.
The commission is requesting that the application include a report verifying Dominion has capacity for the new facility before the board of county supervisors weighs final consideration.
Commission member Rene Fry, who represents the Potomac District, also added that the applicant should provide a redundancy power plan.
DATA CENTERS AND POWER LINES
Last month, Dominion started construction on a controversial power line between Gainesville and Haymarket to service another data center — that line includes 2.2 miles of overhead lines and 3.1 miles of underground lines.
The power line plan has drawn local opposition since 2014 because residents didn’t want the lines to go through neighborhoods or historic areas. The Coalition to Protect Prince William County formed in 2014 after Dominion proposed building 100-foot tall transmission towers and a new substation for the data center tied to Amazon. The coalition opposed adding overhead lines through rural private property, including a proposed route through Carver Road, a historically black community with roots dating to those freed from slavery.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission approved the I-66 hybrid route project in July 2018. Dominion officials say the new line is necessary to help power a data center in Haymarket owned by an Amazon subsidiary and to keep the system reliable. Dominion’s original proposal would have cost an estimated $55 million, according to Dominion officials. The approved project is estimated to cost $175 million.
Dominion officials do not expect electric service to be disrupted during construction. The project will be in service by Dec. 31, 2021, said Greg Mathe said, a Dominion spokesperson. He added that some work will continue through 2022 to restore right of ways and replant grass.