Supervisor Lawson: “Delay the Prince William Digital Gateway Vote”

Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson is making a last-ditch call to delay action on the proposed PW Digital Gateway. Lawson was joined by environmental and preservation activists at a press conference Friday morning about the controversial project.

Lawson’s call comes before the Board of County Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday on the project, which proposes 27.6 million square feet of data centers on 2,139 acres along Pageland Lane. “This project has felt like it’s been fast-tracked,” she said. “This freight train needs to slow down.”

Tuesday’s hearing is on the request to change the land currently designated as agricultural/estate and environmental resource in the Comprehensive Plan to technology/flex, parks and open space, county registered historic site and environmental resource overlay.

The project has quickly become the most controversial and contentious local land-use proposal in decades. Opponents and proponents have launched personal attacks against each other, and it has spawned recall efforts against Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland and Board Chair Ann Wheeler, a federal lawsuit against Candland and a federal lawsuit between landowners and the developer.

The project has received condemnation from various environmental groups and the county’s Historical Commission, Sustainability Commission and Racial and Social Justice Commission. It has received public support primarily from the Pageland Lane landowners and some trade unions for workers who service data centers.

QTS Realty Trust Inc. and Compass Datacenters are seeking rezonings to develop the area. If approved, the Comprehensive Plan amendment, the subject of the Nov. 1 hearing, would weigh heavily in favor of the rezonings.

Elena Schlossberg, executive director of the Coalition to Protect Prince William County, said approving the project would have “catastrophic impacts.” “We are at a crossroads here,” she said.

Lawson’s press conference was at the Lake Ridge Park Marina to call attention to the potential impact of the development on the Occoquan Reservoir. Opponents of the proposal have said the county should conduct a comprehensive water study before it is considered.

“It’s easy to take water and water quality for granted,” Lawson said. “This water supply is important to everyone in the county.”