A data center proposal near Haymarket, Virginia, has moved forward on a technicality despite local officials being able to agree whether the development should go ahead.

InsideNova reports that the Prince William County Planning Commission was unable to agree on a recommendation for the proposed data center at its meeting last week.

CTP-II LLC wants to rezone 22.72 acres at the intersection of Catharpin Road and John Marshall Highway from business and light industrial to office mid-rise to construct the data center. The property is owned by Gainesville Sixty-Six LLC. The development could feature two data center buildings totaling up to 80MW.

John Marshall Commons Tech Park -- PWC -- CTP-II LLC.png
– Prince William County Planning Commission

The project, known as the John Marshall Commons Tech Park, was first proposed last year, but the commission voted to table the proposal until January amid wider concerns in the county about the growing number of data center development, a study into expanding PWC’s existing data center overlay district, and a large development proposals on Pageland Lane.

CTP has since revised some of its plans to save more trees than the original plan and make changes around buffer zones and landscaping. While the staff recommendation for the project was to approve – despite noting that the company’s ‘had not adequately addressed’ the Planning Commission’s previous concerns – the commissioners were unable to agree on whether the development should go ahead.

Officials were unable to agree on whether the proposals should go ahead. The tie vote means the project moves forward to the Board of Supervisors with a de facto recommendation of approval.

Gainesville Commissioner Richard Berry made the initial motion to recommend denial of the rezoning, which was defeated. He said county residents continue to ask him why data centers are being approved outside of the overlay district and “I don’t have a rational answer for that.”

“To continue to approve rezonings and [special-use permits] on land outside the county’s identified Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District is folly,” he said. “Without the study findings, I believe it is unreasonable, irrational, and irresponsible to approve data centers outside the current Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District. I liken it to a doctor performing surgery on a patient without looking at the x-rays.”

A subsequent motion to recommend approval of the project resulted in a 4-4 tie.

“It is important to note that if the Planning Commission defers action again and the Applicant does not agree to such deferral, then the Planning Commission will be deemed to have recommended approval of the rezoning…,” the planning documents noted. “The rezoning application will then proceed to the Board of County Supervisors for a public hearing and the Board’s consideration.”

Prince William County is seeing a large number of new developments being proposed, much to the ire of locals. The study into whether PWC should expand its data center overlay district is still ongoing.

The proposed PW Digital Gateway could see thousands of acres of land rezoned and developed into a huge data center campus. The project, which could support more than 27.6 million square feet of data centers has caused controversy with local who doesn’t want PWC to reach the same level of data center density as neighboring Loudoun County.

CTP-I LLC previously received approval for a separate data center on a 64-acre parcel across Route 55.

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