Downsized Data Center In Ashburn To Get New Vote By Supervisors

March 21, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

ASHBURN, VA — The Belmont data center campus that was rejected by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will be reconsidered, but the new proposal is a smaller size data center.

Ashburn District Supervisor Michael Turner introduced the motion to reconsider the data center south of Route 7 and west of Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn. Turner said the applicant reduced the square footage from 2.9 million square feet of data center to 1.3 million square feet. Supervisors voted on March 13 to reject the larger data center proposal, but the 1.3 million square footage is allowed by right.

The Board of Supervisors voted to reconsider with support from Turner, Broad Run District Supervisor Sylvia Glass, Catocin District Supervisor Caleb Kershner and Leesburg District Supervisor Kristen Umstattd. The vote means the board will reconsider the motion at the next public hearing, which is April 10.

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“The reason that this is in play is because the applicant has viewed whether or not if they go forward with by right, they have to go through essentially a six-month permitting process, an administrative requirement,” said Turner. “If this is approved at the April public hearing, they can even begin construction right away, and apparently that six-month delay is important enough, and they were felt comfortable enough with the environmental package to keep it included.”

Turner, who had voted no on the original data center application, said the new proposal going to the Board of Supervisors includes the environmental concessions to protect the nearby Goose Creek.

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“My assumption was the really spectacular sort of record setting environmental package which included a 300 foot linear park and the first effort to really truly clean Goose Creek we’ve ever had, would fall by the wayside as by-right applications tend to do,” Turner told the board. “but I was contacted by the applicant and said if you will reconsider this application, we will build the by right 1.329 million square foot data center, but we will include all of the environmental package that we wanted to include with a larger footprint. That’s a no brainer.”

Turner said details are pending on the new application, including whether the data center would be subject to the new or old zoning ordinance.

Algonkian District Supervisor Juli Briskman, who has been vocal about curbing future data center development, opposed reconsidering the data center.

“I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind the applicant agreeing to do everything by right that they could do if the denial stays in place,” said Briskman. “So I am not going to be supporting this motion. I think that it’s not a good look for us to deny something and then come back and reconsider and approve it.”

Chair Phyllis Randall said she would oppose reconsideration but would make a “bigger point” at the board’s public hearing on the revised application.

“I will reiterate that the applicant has done more than what has been asked for in many ways. But there’s other things going on that I feel like we need to address as well,” said Randall.

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