Virginia's Fauquier County Board of Supervisors has adopted a set of guidelines designed to curb data center developments.

The new guidelines are aimed at protecting the county's rural character, the health and welfare of its citizens, as well as the value of the residential areas and farmland, reports the Fauquier Times.

Fauquier County data center applications
– Fauquier County, Warrenton

The guidelines are not legally enforceable, but will set expectations for data center developers and may hinder the success of applications.

The policy was developed by county officials, real estate representatives, and representatives from citizen organizations who were concerned about the spread of data centers. The final guidelines are a compromise.

“Not everybody’s happy with this. There are groups on both sides of it who aren’t pleased. That’s what makes it good,” said Supervisor Rick Gerhardt during the supervisors’ meeting.

The official policy states that data center sites will only be located within "service districts in areas with compatible land use designations," and that applications seeking to expand service districts or rezone land are "not appropriate." Land use designations include a Business Park and a Planned Commercial Industrial District.

Data centers should also be where existing infrastructure is in place, and should not be more than one mile from an existing electric transition line. All additional electrical lines must be underground and costs covered by the applicant.

Data centers will have to be designed to be "compatible" in terms of scale according to the location (and limited to 45 feet in height in most cases), and cannot be near a park, residential land, school, or medical care facilities, nor should they disrupt scenic locations or registered historic locations.

Additional guidelines surround the screening of the facilities, fencing, and sustainability requirements.

“On balance, we believe the policy statement is a very helpful document,” Protect Fauquier’s executive board wrote in an email to supervisors. “There are multiple data center proposals before the county, so there is a need to strengthen policy expectations now.”

Protect Fauquier previously opposed Amazon's Warrenton data center proposal, which was approved in February 2023 despite previously being "indefinitely postponed" the previous November.

Nearby Prince William County is working on similar measures for data center applications, though approval of these is not expected until 2025.

Prince William County has approved 46 data center buildings in the last month alone.