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Gainesville Crossing Rezoning Could Bring More High-Voltage Power Lines

| December 9, 2019 | 0 Comments | News

Image of high voltage power lines from the Dominion Power website.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote on whether to approve a land-use rezoning at Gainesville Crossing at their Dec. 10 meeting. Should the rezoning pass, it would allow the building of a new data center at the location, which could require high-voltage power lines.

The request is to rezone 152.7 acres from A-1, Agricultural, to PBD, Planned Business District, “to allow a mix of commercial uses, and a modification to allow for by-right data centers, an electric substation, and other uses in the PBD district; and the application also includes waivers and modifications.”

The site is located on the south side of Lee Highway (Route 29) between its intersections with the Heathcote Boulevard/I-66 Exit 43B off-ramp and Pageland Lane. It is on the north side of I-66.”

Residents, who spent five years fighting against bringing voltage power-lines to the Haymarket area, are concerned about the likelihood a large data center in that location would require a new power-line at a cost to residents.

They are asking the supervisors to delay the vote until more information regarding the impact on power lines is presented to the board.

“We are opposed to massive bulk load customers getting their infrastructure paid for by citizens,” said Elena Schlossberg of the Coalition to Protect Prince William County.

Their fight against the previous power-lines led the SCC to recommend the Amazon data center pay for building the new power-line, but the judge rejected that argument.

“Citizens are carrying the burden of the massive infrastructure bills for these energy hogs. That is a corporate subsidy we should all object to,” Schlossberg said.

She said that large transmission lines are negative for residents in various ways. They often require taking private property, they decrease home values and have negative environmental impacts.

The board has the right to bring the proposal to a vote. The Planning Commission, at its public hearing on November 20, 2019, recommended approval and the resolution has been advertised.

But if the land is rezoned “by-right” it will become much more difficult to fight a new data center. And new powerlines will likely be required.

According to Schlossberg, the 4.5 million square foot data center proposal would require 250+ megawatts from the yet to be constructed Haymarket Transmission line. But it would likely exceed the maximum 300 megawatts allowed by Federal Regulations, triggering the need for another transmission line.

“Amazon data center campus as well as for three hotels, a Wawa, a 3 story storage facility, and several hundred homes and townhomes – all being now, or to be constructed in the same area. It is easy to compute that all of this growth will quickly exceed the 300MW usage capacity of the Haymarket transmission line being installed….When that occurs we will be facing another transmission line fight.”

A deferral will give citizens and the opportunity to get all the facts.

“If we are wrong, then Dominion should come to the Board and to the community, and prove it – but BEFORE, not AFTER the plan is approved.”

The county already has a place for data centers; the Data Center Opportunity Overlay District was passed in 2016. “The purpose of this overlay district is to locate data centers in areas of the county where the power and other infrastructure to support them already exist.”

Yet, the supervisors are still asking that data centers become by-right in other areas of the county.

“This is exactly what the Coalition fought so hard to avoid – data centers everywhere in our county ‘by right.’ This community played fair: we worked with government, we worked with staff to close what had been a glaring deficiency for data center placement in our outdated zoning.”

She is calling on residents who will be affected by the power-lines to come and, “speak up.”

The outgoing board, of which five of the eight members will not be returning, will vote on the resolution.

This is just one of a number of highly contested issues with long-ranging consequences the board has or will vote on before it adjourns. The Dec. 10 meeting could go on late into the night.

Schlossberg is asking why the approval needs to be rushed? And why wasn’t more vigorous vetting of the project done?

“Tell the Board not to make a mockery of what was such a model process in this power-line fight: community and government finding solutions together. Ask them to vote to defer this application until they have more information about its power consumption and how it will be met.”

They should vote to defer because this new loophole of PBD isn’t good governance…There are too many questions and too many concerns.”

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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