Prince William County has experienced tremendous economic growth in the data center market over the past five years, with more than $2.4 billion in capital investment and 370 new jobs in the county. To further seize upon the economic development opportunities data centers provide, the Board of County Supervisors designated nearly 10,000 acres of land as a Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District during its May 17 meeting.
This new zoning district permits the development and operation of data centers in all industrial, office and commercial zoning districts. It also promotes fast-track rezoning approvals for data centers within the Data Center Opportunity Zone.
"Data centers are vital to our community," said Chairman Corey A. Stewart. "They provide significant revenue to help offset the residential tax burden for our residents. We asked our Planning Office to develop a strategy, by working with the industry, to help us better identify where the opportunities exist in the community to support future data center development."
Following direction from the Board of County Supervisors to amend the zoning text to clarify data center use, the Planning Office worked with members of the data center community, utility companies and community leaders to develop what ultimately was presented as the Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District.
The Data Center Opportunity Zone was established over properties where supporting infrastructure is readily available or easily provided with minimal impact to residential properties. Also taken into consideration were the current zoning and long-range planning designations for properties.
The Board also voted to implement an expedited review process for electrical substations required to support data center developments. This allows the same opportunity for citizen feedback on the location and development of electrical substations that will occur with any such application, but assures rapid turnaround if the substation is affiliated with a data center or other targeted industry.
"We need to make certain that we encourage consistent development in the immediate and long term for the community," said Stewart. "This provides the type of certainty and commitment that data center clients need as they contemplate future development in Prince William County. Tonight, we, as a Board, have provided a clear roadmap for data center development that will support the future development and long-term planning goals of our community."