Supervisors of Prince William County Virginia have voted to move forward a proposal that could lead to more data centers in the County,

A Supervisors meeting this week approved moves that could expand the so-called "overlay district" in which data centers are allowed, potentially opening the County up to more facilities, along the lines of neighboring Loudoun County, which has the greatest concentration of data centers in the world.

Former Prince William County courthouse
– Wikimedia Commons

Overlay Overkill?

Data centers are potential sources of tax revenue, and the Board of Supervisors have previously voted to increase taxes on data centers, however while Democrats support the expansion of data centers, local Republicans are hostile to the increase of data centers in the County, according to Potomac Local News: "Republicans are fighting the prospect of developing the land, arguing instead for preservation for uses like agrotourism," said a recent report.

The overlay district (full name the "Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District"), created in 2016, currently covers areas around 10,000 acres around the Manassas Regional Airport, and in areas along Route 234, Interstate 66, Route 234, and in Woodbridge. Democrats want to expand the district, and on Tuesday this week voted to hire a consultant to examine the possibility.

On Tuesday, the Board voted 5-3 along party lines Tuesday to call in an outside consultant to look into expanding the overlay district, reports InsideNova. The report, costing around $120,000, will take around six months and will examine allowing data centers in other locations along existing high-transmission power lines.

Before the meeting, public comments were running 26 in favor, to 19 against, InsideNova reports.

The study does not mean that expansion will go ahead, pointed out Board Chair Ann Wheeler: "This is a study. Don’t interpret this as this is all approved. The idea of doing this is to look at the ramifications.”

In the meantime, construction continues apace in Prince William County, and data center operators are buying land where data centers are permitted, including a Stack expanding a large campus.