The Loudoun County Planning Commission in Virginia has recommended approving the Hiddenwood Assemblage application to allow homeowners in Arcola to sell their land for a data center project.

The vote passed narrowly, with a 4-3 outcome, and will now see the application go to the Board of Supervisors, reports the Loudoun Times Mirror.

Hiddenwood Lane
The Hiddenwood Assemblage – Google Maps

The Planning Commission described it as a "no-win situation," with some homeowners wanting the zoning change to sell their land, and others in nearby Briarfield Estates not wanting to live in a neighborhood surrounded by data centers.

Those living on Hiddenwood Lane are keen to sell their land after the Board of Supervisors approved a data center development owned by JK Land Holdings on the parcel adjacent to the homes.

According to residents on Hiddenwood Lane, the neighborhood has already been overwhelmed by a massive construction zone for data centers that have been approved over the last few years.

The JK Technology Park 2 is an 869,000 sq ft (80,733 sqm) development immediately to the south of the land currently being discussed and includes some of Hiddenwood Lane. That project received approval after Hiddenwood residents dropped their opposition to the project and decided to sell their homes instead.

For all intents and purposes, the subdivision “is already part of an approved data center park,” Hiddenwood resident Kaleb Calhoun told the Planning Commission at the May 9 meeting. Another resident, Ryan Khan, added that the rezoning will enable the residents to "move on with their lives."

Michael Romeo, from Walsh Colucci, who is representing the applicants said: "There’s trash being dumped. There are data centers under construction — that are built and soon to be completed. There are massive jumbo deliveries occurring on a regular basis. Trucks break down and block the road, causing a major safety issue. [Racefield Lane] was repaved just last year and there are already major potholes all throughout it.”

Romeo added: “This is a miserable experience for everybody involved, and everybody sitting behind me has to deal with this all the time."

However, the rezoning will bring the boundary of data center developments closer to Briarfield Estates, essentially completely surrounding the neighborhood and placing those residents in the exact same situation that Hiddenwood Lane homeowners were.

Romeo claims that the Hiddenwood application, which is for a 756,000 sq ft (70,200 sq m) data center, is making efforts to minimize negative impacts to Briarfield that the previous JK 2 application did not.

This includes a height limit of 24 feet above the cul-de-sac for buildings nearby, while those further away can reach 50 feet. The data centers are also planned to be "nearly invisible" from Briarfield because of trees blocking the view.

“The Hiddenwood residents feel trapped and they are truly the victims in the JK 2 approval,” said a February 23 letter to the Planning Commission from Briarfield resident Lauren Murphy.

“I feel terrible for them, and for their loss of tranquility and peace. With that being said, this application cannot be approved as it will simply pass on their plight to another victim — Briarfield Estates. Two wrongs do not make a right here. I don’t have a solution, but I wish the county could do more to assist them with their plight. However, casting their problems onto another neighborhood should not even be a consideration.”

The Briarfield Estate is surrounded by a Yondr data center development to the west, JK1 to the North, JK 2 & 3 to the South, a BlackChamber development to the North East, and an Amazon Data Services development to the Southwest. Microsoft is also developing a data center campus nearby.