Prince William Co. supervisors approve data center project near Bristow

One of many controversial data center projects in Prince William County has been approved, WTOP's Luke Lukert reports.

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partner Sign up for’s free email subscription today.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors in a party-line vote early Wednesday approved a rezoning to make way for the contentious Devlin Technology Park data center complex near Bristow that will back up to a residential neighborhood.

Demonstrators opposing Devlin Technology Park prior to the Nov. 28 meeting. (Ben Peters/InsideNova)

The rezoning of 269 acres on the county’s western end to allow for 4.2-million square feet of between seven to nine data centers northwest of Devlin Road that’s directly adjacent to hundreds of homes came after a 5 a.m. vote following hours of public comment and hearings with developer Stanley Martin Cos. Inc.

The application, which also provides dedicated space for a new public park, marked the latest high-profile data center case to clear Prince William County despite outcry from residents and advocacy groups over its proximity to residences and abundant concerns about it harming neighbors’ quality of life.

The board’s Democratic majority of Chair Ann Wheeler, Woodbridge Supervisor Margaret Franklin, Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boddye and Neabsco Supervisor Victor Angry supported the proposal. Coles Supervisor Yesli Vega, Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson and Gainesville Supervisor Bob Weir — all Republicans — opposed the project.

While the Republicans spent much of the 10-hour meeting making clear their opposition to the project, Democrats were largely quiet, declining to participate in most discussions and offering no explanation for their vote in support. The board’s four Democrats did not immediately return requests for comment on their votes.

WTOP's Luke Lukert reports on residents asking the Board of Supervisors to reject the data center project.

Several hours of the public hearing was defined by Republicans opposed to the project grilling the county’s professional planning staff and the developer’s representatives with questions about the application with attempts to secure additional concessions.

Meanwhile, all four Democrats sat silently for hours, declining to interact with either the staff or developer as Republicans, primarily Lawson and Weir, carried on with questioning. It wasn’t until early Wednesday morning following public comment that Democrats briefly spoke up and engaged in the public hearing.

Members of both parties spent hours early into the morning negotiating with the developer on a number of slight changes to the application to mitigate concerns, including about noise produced from the data centers. It was Lawson, a lame-duck supervisor who represents the project area and has long opposed the proposal, who spent by far the most time interrogating developers for changes.

Republicans were frustrated that the project area, which is currently located outside the county-designated overlay district where data centers are to be developed, would be incorporated into the zone as a condition of board approval. They argued it amounted to the board holding the applicant to a different standard than others.

“I view it as nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the county ordinance,” Weir said of the move to include the parcel within the overlay district.

Because of the concerns, Weir early in the meeting moved to send the case back to the Planning Commission for further review to address the application’s recent changes. But they were unable to convince any Democrats to join them.

Opponents held a press conference outside the board chambers prior to the meeting where they reiterated their longstanding disdain for the project. A dueling rally was simultaneously held by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26, a union that backed the project. Several union leaders spoke during the meeting about the jobs data centers afford their members. They were among the only voices in support of the project.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up