After a two-year battle over power lines along Rt. 50, the Board of Supervisors has put the brakes on data centers on Rt. 50.
New data centers will have to go through a special exception application process to build in the Rt. 50 corridor. The process requires public hearings at both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Previously, data centers could be built by-right in that area. The power lines Dominion proposed to build along Rt. 50 were made necessary by data center construction plans.
The board changed the rules in the Commercial Light Industrial zoning district, which only exists along Rt. 50. In the past, all of Rt. 50 was zoned for commercial uses, but over time, previous boards have granted exceptions to build residential developments along that road, making it a less-than-ideal area for data centers.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said there was a concern that once Dominion had put in the power infrastructure that would have gone along Rt. 50, there would be a rush for more data centers.
Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) opposed the change.
“I appreciate what you’re doing, I’m just trying to be as sensitive as possible, since data centers usually cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build,” Volpe said. She said she would prefer they go through a minor special exception, a more expedited application process that still gives the Board of Supervisors the final say.
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) thanked Letourneau and the county staff.
“This took some creativity and vision, and I’m happy to support it,” Meyer said. “I think the residents down in Dulles will be wildly grateful to us all.