Editor: I write in response to the article entitled “Farmland to Data Centers Switch Worries Neighbors.” A better title would have been “Subdivision to Data Centers Switch Worries NIMBYs.”
The choice is not between farmland and data centers. That ship has sailed. The real choice is between residential subdivisions and data centers. By now, we all know which one is better for the county as a whole. Data center tax revenue can be used for schools, first responders, and roads, thereby lowering the taxes paid by the rest of us. Opting for residential subdivisions, on the other hand, burdens our schools, first responders, and roads, and increases taxes on current residents.
This leaves the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) approach exemplified in the Loudoun Nowarticle. The article quotes a Red Cedar resident raising three issues. All three are easily disposed of.
The first issue (“We know traffic and schools aren’t going to be impacted”) is only half right. Red Cedar residents are correct that data centers will not make traffic any worse or schools more crowded. Kudos to them for admitting it. Imagine the crowding on roads and schools if data centers were replaced with subdivisions. But they are incorrect when they say traffic and schools are not going to be impacted. They are already being impacted, in a very positive way. The tax windfall collected from existing data centers is being used to improve schools and roads. That will continue indefinitely, unless NIMBYs have their way.
The second issue (“what light pollution is there going to be?”) is simple. The technology to limit light pollution is well developed. For example, lights can be pointed down and shielded. Think of the alternative: more subdivisions with street lamps and more high schools with stadium lights. Red Cedar residents already have to squint when driving past blazingly bright floodlights from nearby sports fields.
The answer to the third issue (“What noise pollution is there going to be”) is already known. Drive past any of Loudoun’s existing data centers. They are quiet. No outdoor speakers. No shotguns. No dogs. Compare that to current residential development allowed in the transition zone.
The article also says residents of Red Cedar were alarmed to find out about a proposed data center at neighboring Holyfield farm. Where were they when the Holyfield farm owner proposed to build hundreds of houses instead? Between the two options, it’s an easy choice.
James T. Carmichael, Leesburg