HomeLifestyleIdentity Crisis: Northern Virginia’s ‘Rural Crescent’ Is Turning Into a Massive Hub for Data Centers

Identity Crisis: Northern Virginia’s ‘Rural Crescent’ Is Turning Into a Massive Hub for Data Centers

by Kati Michelle
(Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Some locals are feeling betrayed by their county’s move towards becoming a massive hub for data centers. They lament the fact that their brick homes and farms are being replaced by various gadgets and gizmos as a result of the massive expansion boom in Virginia’s Northern realm.

The Prince William County neighborhood says they tried to fight the expansion as long as they could but ultimately ended up defeated. Some residents will soon be selling off the remaining land. And in its place, a data hub spanning 2,100-acres will rise.

Virginia Citizens Report ‘Throwing in the Towel’

Page Snyder is a 71-year-old resident of Prince William County in Virginia. She owns the farm she grew up on, which is located near a historic Civil War battle site. Nowadays, there’s also a retirement village nearby which most citizens did not approve of when its plans were announced. At this point, though, Page and the remaining neighbors say they have few options when it comes to fighting the continued expansion in Virginia.

“It’s just gotten worse and worse,” she tells the Post. “Basically, we’ve just thrown in the towel.”

Snyder comes from a long line of people who put up a good fight for Virginia’s countryside for decades. During the ’50s, for example, her mother spoke out against the county’s plans to make their small Pageland Lane a two-lane road. Not even a decade later, she tried to fend off plans for an auto racetrack near the Manassas National Battlefield Park. In the following years, the community also voiced their opposition towards a shopping mall and amusement park.

“We’ve spent our entire lives fighting one thing after another,” says Page.

The Prince William Board is Reviewing Its Plans

The $8.4 billion data center industry is already anchored to Northern Virginia. As of now, 33 data centers call Prince William their home, with at least 8 more under construction. The county nearby, Loudoun, also hosts about 140 of them, which takes up 25 million square feet. Experts have seen an increase in demand for internet use as remote work and online shopping become the norm during the ongoing pandemic.

As the Prince William Board of Virginia takes a look at its plans for the land, there appears to be some contention among the board members as well. While Supervisor Pete Candland used to speak out against the movement, he has since reversed his position. Ann Wheeler, the board chair, is also for the expansion.

“This is a chance to really bring in more commercial revenue,” she says.

But Supervisor Jeanine Lawson isn’t so sure. She speaks from concern for the area’s bald eagles, cedar trees, and farmers in the countryside.

“[This decision] will forever change who we are as a county,” she says. “There would be no turning back from this.”