More than 100 acres along Goose Creek could be bulldozed for a data center unless we tell the Board of Supervisors to say NO before January 18.
Approval of the True North Data Center would set an irreversible precedent of disregard for established zoning, and would be inconsistent with the policies of our Comprehensive Plan, which sets forth our vision and values.
EMAIL NOW: In your own words, use these talking points to let the Board of Supervisors know why they should deny the rezoning for a data center.
– If approved, other data center applications for rezoning will follow. The parcel is located in the Transition Policy Area (TPA), “a permanently defined policy area to provide a visual and spatial transition between the suburban development in the eastern part of the County and rural development in the west.” “Natural open spaces will be the predominant visual element and create a contiguous network of green spaces consistent with the Countywide Green Infrastructure objectives.”
– County staffs’ findings for denial of the application include 1) inconsistency with the Transition Area Policies (TPA) of the Revised General Plan, 2) lack of commitment to building designs appropriate to a development in the TPA, 3) lack of preservation of globally rare endangered species identified by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and therefore inconsistent with the Green Infrastructure policies of the Plan.
– Governing by parcel, via comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance amendments rather than following our comprehensive plan, ignores the reasons our policies were adopted in the first place, and turns a collective back to our values, including protection of natural resources.
-The County is currently updating its Comprehensive Plan which will guide land use decisions for the next 20 years and beyond. Decisions to rezone the TPA for light industrial uses such as data centers should wait until after public input is complete, and the new plan is adopted. Our current plan prescribes a watershed-based approach to land use planning, protecting the streams and adjacent lands that sustain our air and water quality, and wildlife. Perhaps our new plan should also provide guidance for locating data centers strategically, without harm to our watersheds (three of which are in the TPA), and with thoughtfulness to our current and future needs, such as protection of our stream corridors and connected open space that is so desperately needed in Loudoun.
Placing a data center along Goose Creek ignores the function and importance of our green infrastructure, watersheds and ecosystems.
-Green infrastructure is the network of natural lands across our landscape- forests, wetlands, stream corridors, grasslands- that work together as a whole to provide ecological benefits. We have already lost significant amounts of forest and meadow near Goose Creek to the power plant, the Greenway, the water facility and quarry. Because these industries have already compromised the watershed is exactly the reason we should not rezone for further industrial use in this area.
– Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation identifies a globally rare ecological community of mafic barrens on the land, only 10 of which have been identified in the world. Construction of the data center will result in destruction of this asset, as well as destruction of habitat that is suitable for state-threatened wood turtles and many other species of wildlife.
–The applicant claims its data centers are “environmentally friendly” because they are air-cooled rather than water-cooled. But the environmental issues with data centers go way beyond their cooling systems. Consider the vast amounts of power used and pollution emitted. Water quality issues stem largely from stormwater runoff. This data center will have 17 acres of impervious roof, plus roadways and parking lots. The trees and vegetation that naturally function to store and filter stormwater will be bulldozed, leaving vast quantities of runoff to enter and erode Goose Creek. As more industry enters the watershed, the problem will be compounded. Although the current applicant professes to be ‘green’, what of rezoning applicants to follow?
-The applicant has offered a proffer of 5 acres of trail along the creek. The last applicant for this parcel, who proposed to build an adult community, was recommended for denial by County staff despite offering to preserve 41 acres of land for County residents and wildlife, because staff did not think it was an appropriate use for this piece of land.
Will denial of one rezoning application really damage tax revenue from data centers?
–Loudoun is home to the world’s largest concentration of data centers, with more than 75 in existence today, and dozens more on the way. Why is it so important to allow this data center on this particular parcel? We acknowledge the economic benefits of data centers to our economy, but they need to be located in the right place.
-Funding for our schools has been cited as a major reason for rezoning approval. While our fast-growing school system does consume the largest portion of Loudoun’s budget, our children also need ecosystem protections and access to clean water, open spaces and wild places; now, and into the future.
–Loudoun Economic Development predicts the True North data center will generate $22+ million in tax revenue per year. The total tax revenue projected for all of Loudoun’s data centers is $150 million next year. Is it realistic to expect one data center to generate nearly 15% of the revenue as the other 75 data centers combined?
-If the revenue from this particular data center on this particular parcel of land is so important, should Loudoun be proposing a business personal property tax cut for data centers? Data centers in Virginia already enjoy 6% sales and use tax exemption on servers, generators, chillers and server-related equipment. Data centers follow incentives. Perhaps a better incentive would be for the County to offer discounted prices on appropriately located parcels. At less than $14,000 per acre, this particular parcel is a steal.