Editor: The True North Data Center project located on the banks of the scenic river designated Goose Creek is opposed by both the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Goose Creek Association. In addition, nearly 400 citizens sent e-mails to the Board of Supervisor voicing opposition. Finally, the Loudoun County planning staff recommends denial for this project. Despite this great outcry of overwhelming opposition, the project looks like it on the way to approval. It has the support of the majority of Loudoun County supervisors who have shamefully chosen to ignore Loudoun’s environmental community, ignore their own constituents, and ignore their own staff.
Instead, these supervisors have unwisely chosen to listen to the applicant’s arguments, believing that the project will fund schools, roads, and libraries and that the project is environmentally sound. While it is true that tax revenue True North Data Center will be significant, it is not the only such project. At the Dec. 12 public hearing, executive director for economic development Buddy Rizer stated there are other data center projects in Loudoun County. Last month, Google announced two new data centers in Loudoun. Buddy Rizer also stated that denial of one data center project will not have an adverse impact to other data centers. Contrary to what the True North Data Center applicant wants Loudoun to believe, there will be many other data centers to supply tax revenue.
Claims that this project is environmentally responsible and less harmful to Goose Creek than low-density housing couldn’t be further from the truth. The application shows the globally rare Northern Piedmont Mafic Barren plant community found on this site will be obliterated, despite knowing that there are only 10 know communities on Earth. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation identifies the Piedmont Mafic Barren as one of the rarest natural community types in eastern North America. The Loudoun County staff report describes this plant community as a “heritage resource.” The applicant’s attorney, on the other hand, flippantly refers to this plant community as “fuzzy rocks” not worthy of preservation.
The application does not adhere to the current 70 percent open space requirement. The proposed 58 percent open space is not contiguous and, thereby, not valuable from an ecosystem point of view. Under current zoning, 10 houses are permitted and could be designed to meet the 70 percent open space requirement while preserving the Northern Piedmont Mafic Barren. The impervious surface created by 10 houses and residential roadways will not come close to the impervious surface created by the data center. The data center will generate much greater volumes of stormwater runoff carrying pollutants to the Goose Creek. It is false to claim that the data center will be less harmful to the Goose Creek than housing.
Large wooded areas provide habitat for wildlife and can function as an ecosystem, providing many services for free. Forest ecosystems clean our air and water at no cost. Landscape plants and even pollinator gardens cannot replace ecosystem services that the forest provides. How much will it cost to clean our air and water? Did you know that data centers cause thermal pollution by releasing waste heat to the air?
I have three recommendations for our supervisors. First, impose a moratorium on all rezonings until the comprehensive plan update is completed and adopted. Second, vote according to your constituents’ wishes. Third, honor the Science Resolution you adopted last spring. Finally, a huge “Thank You” to those supervisors who already adhere to all recommendations by opposing the True North Data Center rezoning.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg