Northern Virginia: Loudoun Board: Data center development could be curtailed

Feb 22, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Recently, a committee of the Board of Supervisors argued that data centers should be prevented from being built on the Route 7 corridor in northeastern Loudoun County. Already the area is home to 25 million square feet of data centers, with data center development booming in recent years, a boom that has come with financial benefits. 

However, Buddy Rizer, the county's economic development director, emphasized the need for careful management of growth, especially when a place becomes an "undisputed leader" in a particular area. In the Loudoun Data Center Land Study, it was found that currently, there are "multiple parcels" along Route 7 permitted for data centers "by right" despite the fact that there is reportedly "no electrical infrastructure to support this development."

He added: "Availability of power is a critical element, and the addition of new routes of power in the county is very disruptive."

If the County wishes to limit landowners capitalizing on this boom, it will have to bring its zoning in line with Loudoun's 2019 General Plan. 

According to Rizer, those within the data center industry were not reached out to when the study was developed; however, Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, D-At large, said that it was "appropriate not to have them" be a part of the discussion. She stated: "The industry comes into this discussion with almost nothing but what is in their financial best interest. … What else are they going to say, but they want data centers kind of everywhere?" Adding: "Not diversifying your economy to that degree at some point gets a little dangerous.

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