The Prince William County Board of Supervisors is facing another lawsuit over its decision to allow more than 25 million sq ft (2.3 million sqm) of data centers to be developed in the county.

Officials last month voted in favor of changing the area's comprehensive plan, which paves the way for more than 25 million sq ft of data center development under a project known as the PW Digital Gateway. The amendments provide by-right zoning for data centers on the land along Pageland Lane in Manassas.

PW Digital Gateway.png
– Prince William County Planning Commission

The Oak Valley Homeowners Association, Inc., and several local landowners are filing a suit against the board, saying the decision to allow an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plans was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The suit is seeking a permanent injunction preventing the Board from taking any further action to implement the comprehensive plan amendment (CPA), including approving any of the pending rezoning applications for approval to construct data centers in the CPA Study Area or purchasing any of the areas designated as parkland in the CPA.

“The Oak Valley HOA and associated plaintiffs filed a complaint that we expect will be a successful challenge to the BOCS’ decision to proceed with the PWDG,” said Mac Haddow, President of the Oak Valley HOA.

Oak Valley Homeowners Association is a 254-member homeowners association, and owns land in Gainesville close to the PW Digital Gateway project area.

The lawsuit claims the board violated Virginia law by considering and voting on the CPA without the required certification from the planning commission, and unlawfully force local taxpayers to purchase approximately 500 acres of land in the Digital Gateway to be used as parkland.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the board in relation to the Gateway project. Earlier this week, Gainesville Citizens for Smart Growth and several local residents filed a lawsuit against Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors, Chair Ann Wheeler, and Supervisor Pete Candland.

The lawsuit, filed this month in Prince William County Circuit Court, aims to reverse the comprehensive plan amendment and prevent future changes to the plan.

Compass and QTS are known to be involved in the project, looking to rezone and develop on around 800 acres each. A letter from NOVEC in a previous staff report suggests the project could total more than 1,000MW. Neither company is listed as a defendant in either lawsuit.

Fauquier County officials face lawsuit over Amazon data center

Elsewhere in Virginia, another lawsuit is being filed against county officials over data center dealings.

First reported by Fauquier Now, Citizens for Fauquier County announced this week that it plans to file a lawsuit against the town of Warrenton, claiming town officials illegally suppressed or redacted information requested by the organization through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding the Amazon data center proposal.

In June 2021, Amazon filed to build an approximately 220,000-square-foot (20,400 sqm), single-story data center in Warrenton at the intersection of Blackwell Road and Lee Highway. However, the Warrenton Planning Commission voted unanimously last month to indefinitely delay a public hearing on Amazon’s application for a special-use permit to build a data center, saying the company’s application was incomplete. The development had faced local opposition.

The suit will allege the town acted unlawfully by refusing to turn over thousands of emails relating to the project between Mayor Carter Nevill, former town manager Brandie Schaeffer, and Amazon representatives. The town claimed the more than 3,000 emails were protected by “executive privilege.”

“For months, Citizens for Fauquier County has attempted to work with town officials to share our concerns regarding Amazon’s proposed data center through four detailed letters on the applicable town and legal requirements; deficiencies in Amazon’s submission; and risks to the town and its residents if the data center is approved,” said Kevin Ramundo, president of Citizens for Fauquier County.

The Town of Warrenton told FauquierNow it "takes the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act very seriously."

"With every request, the Town works to provide the requested documents and allow openness and transparency in governance. The Town has provided all information requested consistent with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act."

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