Fauquier and Warrenton residents must speak up and reject approval of the Amazon Data Center on Blackwell Road and oppose Dominion Energy’s plans to build high-capacity transmission lines along our historic and scenic roadways for this inappropriate data center development.

Our neighbor, Loudoun County, has long encouraged nearly unbridled development of data centers, but it is now having second thoughts. We should learn from Loudoun’s experience. Despite a decade of explosive development, making Loudoun the data center capital of the world, its supervisors are warning residents of a tight budget next year and possibly higher taxes.

Today, Loudoun is trying to curb future data center development, especially in rural areas and along Route 7, the gateway to Leesburg, Loudoun’s historic county seat. Dominion also recently announced constraints on delivering power for data center growth in Loudoun, although major transmission lines already crisscross much of the county.

Meanwhile, Fauquier and Warrenton, along with Prince William and Culpeper counties, may be too eager to avail themselves of the tax revenue benefits associated with data centers, while ignoring the costs they impose on their communities.

It appears that instead of confining data center development to the industrial areas set aside for it in Vint Hill and Remington, Fauquier and Warrenton might be willing to allow Amazon to build anywhere landowners are willing to sell to the highest bidder, including mixed use and historic areas.

As Dominion ratepayers, we will be paying for ugly transmission lines along our historic gateways and neighborhoods to feed data centers’ voracious, fossil-fuels appetite.

The idea of burying the power lines is likely a mirage. It would be unprecedented for the State Corporation Commission to approve placing underground the entire high-capacity power line and for Amazon, rather than tax and rate payers, to absorb the cost.

Where is the strategic study and public input on Fauquier and Warrenton’s future with data centers?

To learn from Loudoun’s data center experience, Fauquier and Warrenton need to:

Follow our comprehensive plans, rather than “spot zone/rezone” for scattered data centers (“mixed use” in the comp plans does not include data centers);

Protect scenic gateways and roadways that do not have the power infrastructure to sustain data centers;

Limit our dependence on data centers for tax revenues;

Independently analyze estimated data center tax revenues based on the actual landlords and tenants;

Adopt modern, data center-specific building standards that address high-quality design, environmental sustainability and proximity to residential and retail areas; and

Reject pressure to rezone and permit data center development in a scattershot and inappropriate manner.

Only by learning from Loudoun’s past and having a transparent, public discussion can Fauquier and Warrenton thoughtfully consider their futures and control data center developments, rather than be controlled by them.

Lori Keenan McGuinness

Marshall

Fauquier chair, Goose Creek Association

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