DATA CENTERS/BRISTOW

Amberleigh Station Resident Blindsided that Data Centers Would be Built 100' from her Backyard

Tells Supervisor Lawson, the Prince William Supervisors are putting profits over people.

Posted

In the following letter, a Bristow woman tells Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson-R that the 11-building data center park she quietly pushed before the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in September 2021, will be visible from her Amberleigh Station home. She said she can no longer support Lawson's leadership and has all lost faith in the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. 

Lawson worked to regain the trust of her constituents at her Oct. 26 town hall. She has heard their opposition to data centers, and will no longer be supporting data centers in suburban residential areas. As such she will no longer support adding the Devlin  Technology Park to the county's comprehensive plan.  

In regards to the Hunter property, Lawson said Charles 'Chuck' Kuhn is asking to raise the height of the buildings. In return, she would require that they create a bigger buffer for residents. 

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Dear Supervisor Lawson, 

It was eight weeks ago that I learned data centers, plural, many data centers, containing many buildings, were going to be built DIRECTLY behind my house, not just somewhere on the property 'back there.'

This picture (above) shows a yellow pole 100 feet behind my fence. The gate has orange ribbons tied to it. The picture is taken from my deck below my kitchen window. Please note all the trees are deciduous, and the picture will look very different in a few weeks.

This is how close and how visible this data center project is to my house. The neighbors directly to my left, who bought their home in November of 2020, just installed a beautiful swing set, playhouse, and trampoline, this summer, for their three young girls. The neighbor to their left, who bought his house in 2010, with the intention of spending his retirement years there, has created a beautiful backyard sanctuary in addition to other amazing improvements to his home. The neighbor to my right has an above-ground pool, and to his right, other neighbors have a playhouse and trampoline for their kids in their backyard. All of us, and many other Amberleigh residents, will all be sharing our backyards with multiple 75-foot data centers you thought were a good idea.

I have learned a lot over the last eight weeks. I see now that this terrible situation is only going to get worse. I have lost ALL faith in the elected officials of this county and the county government processes that should be in place to make good decisions for the citizens.

Right after finding out about the data centers' proximity to my home, we have a conversation. In a Zoom call with you, you seemed surprised at my statement that a 100-foot buffer is nothing, that I can see it from my kitchen window, and that there are no cedar or evergreen trees back there. You also seemed dismayed that the proposed site plan got into the public. I believe you said it wasn’t real, but “a placeholder.” I think we have reached a point where many citizens are going to believe what they see with their own eyes and discover with their own research. The days of believing what we are told are over.

Then in a Zoom call with Chair Ann Wheeler, it was obvious that she had never considered that the project behind our house and the Devlin project actually involved people and not just money. She made a comment in a local newspaper that she hadn’t heard many negative comments from residents of Bristow so she didn’t think there was much opposition. She never asked. The Board seems to expect the citizens to do the work to uncover what our government is doing instead of honorably representing the citizens who elected them and keeping them informed.

We, the citizens, thought we had won a small victory when Stanley Martin withdrew the public hearing from the board agenda on September 13, 2022. We believed that public opinion and the press was putting pressure on their quest to have their proposed housing development rezoned as industrial. Several weeks later, a different truth emerged. I believe that someone told them that the 2040 Comp Plan favored the change and all they had to do was be patient. They will get what they want with little to no resistance. Astute citizens brought to the attention of the planning commission that the text of the 2040 Comp Plan and the maps directly contradict each other:

"Land use classifications or transects identified as 'Incompatible' should only be located adjacent to each other when extensive and extraordinary mitigating measures can effectively address all compatibility concerns. Mitigation measures are of particular concern when inherently incompatible land uses such as residential uses and industrial uses are proposed adjacent to one another."

That paragraph from the end of the Land Use Compatibility Chapter (p. 200) of the 2040 Comp Plan is completely counter to what is planned for Devlin and what is happening behind my house. And yet, NO ONE in authority cares.

I have learned that planning office presentations are useless. I feel strongly that the planning office decides (or is told) what the end result is to be, and the study and the presentation are developed to support the end result. When reasonable questions are asked, the less-than-helpful responses are “that will require more study” or “that will require mitigation or screening strategies.” How can you make a recommendation when so many questions remain?

I have learned that the school district executives and the school board were not consulted nor brought into discussions of the Comp Plan. The Prince William County Planning Office, planning commission, and board of county supervisors make all the decisions and the schools must react to the situation that is forced upon them. That would explain why we here in the Brentsville District dealt with overcrowded schools, trailers, and frequent school shuffling for about 13 years while this area developed more quickly than the schools and the infrastructure could support.

I have learned that the project behind my house began in February 2020 when the first application was filed to change the zoning on that piece of land and a subsequent application was filed in June 2020. All this while the world was in lockdown for COVID. As the project worked its way through the process, Mr. Charles 'Chuck' Kuhn, the millionaire Loudoun County resident who was interested in that piece of property, made a donation to your local campaign fund in October of 2020—likely because he was going to need your help to close on that project.

As I start to put the pieces together, I start to ponder possible explanations. It occurs to me that, by October 2020, you were likely considering, if not decided, on running for Congress in a district that would include Mr. Kuhn’s Loudoun County. Wealthy business owners are good friends to have.

I have been wracking my brain as to how this all got past me without a clue. Like I’ve said, I pay attention. I knew about the 1000+ houses in Stonehaven, I knew about the low-rise office park, I knew about the high school, I even knew about talk of a possible data center, but not 75 feet tall and I assumed further back toward Jiffy Lube Live. I have been getting your emails for years. I now realize that you send out the Alerts to upcoming items when they are items you oppose. You didn’t alert us to the rezoning of that property to Industrial because you favored it. Citizen input would just make it complicated. I have also learned over the last 8 weeks that by the time there is a Board or Commission meeting with Citizen Time, the decision has already been made, and allowing the citizens to have their say is merely a requirement to get to the vote.

By the time the world started to come out of COVID in the summer and fall of 2021, the project behind my house was a forgone conclusion. Mr. Kuhn just needed to wait for the process to conclude in his favor. The Board passed the rezone on September 7, 2021, and one month later on October 14, 2021, the Quit Claim deed was signed transferring the land to Mr. Kuhn.

In December 2021, Mr. Kuhn and his family each donated the maximum amounts to your Federal Campaign.

The press I read about Mr. Kuhn indicates that he has bought up large parcels in Loudoun and Fauquier with the expressed intention of NOT developing them. He wants to conserve the land and landscape. He has been referred to as a conservationist. He clearly has no such interest in Prince William County. I’ve heard that he has said that if he can’t get the amendment to 80 feet he will lease the land to Amazon (who has not been accommodating to neighbors in Manassas who hear their data center from their backyards.)

Maybe you could ask your friend Mr. Kuhn, “who wants to be a good neighbor,” to use that land for a solar field instead of data centers. He could be part of the solution instead of part of the problem!

I have also learned over the last eight weeks that there are clearly two opposing parties in this County. At first glance, it would appear that it is Republican vs. Democrat. It is obvious that the Republicans form one voting bloc and the Democrats another on the Board of County Supervisors and the Planning Commission. But, I think the division is less of an ideological dividing line and more of a geographical dividing line. east vs. west. It was clear from the questions presented at the Planning Commission meeting that members from the east side of the county think those on the west have something they don’t and it is time for “equity.” 

 Gwendolyn Brown of Neabsco seemed particularly interested in ensuring there is affordable housing on the western side of the county in the Comp Plan. I couldn’t help but think that our neighborhood may become that affordable housing. In fact, if the proposed plan that Steve Pleickhardt obtained through a FOIA request becomes a reality and the 2040 Comp Plan passes, I believe that all homes between Sudley Manor Drive and Limestone Drive (maybe all the way to Glenkirk Road) will be undesirable. Any homes that are zoned for Piney Branch, Chris Yung, Gainesville Middle, and Gainesville HS will be passed over for schools that aren’t in the middle of a concrete industrial area for as far as the eye can see. If I were shopping for a home I would avoid this whole area. As someone with a house to sell it sickens and infuriates me. This is the hell you have brought on us.

I am utterly disgusted by our local government in Prince William County. The Board of County Supervisors is strictly devoted to their voting blocs, whether it is Democrat vs Republican or East vs. West. Who is working for what is best for the County and its citizens? I feel confident that there are many citizens asking the same question.

I have always been a reliable vote for you. NEVER AGAIN. I will actively campaign against you. You sold out your neighbors, not just your constituents, and it is going to cost us our home and equity that we were counting on for our retirement which is just 5 years away.

This situation keeps me awake at night, but I would imagine for a politician like yourself, it is just the cost of doing business.

Yondr data center, Bristow, Virginia, Amberleigh Station, backyard, blindsided, residential neighborhood, Brentsville District, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, Brentsville supervisor, data center development, Prince William County, Comp Plan, Chuck Kuhn, Congressional donation, Bristow data center, data center park, Northern Virginia, Linton Hall Road, Board of County Supervisors, Chair Ann Wheeler, Planning commission, Gwendolyn Brown

Comments

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  • CurtisS

    We had questioned Jeanine Lawson regarding Silver Leaf Estates' location to the data center and NOVAC substation that Jeanine Lawson and the BOCS passed in 2017.

    This is an email from Jeanine Lawson- Date: October 11, 2017 at 3:10:23 PM EDT

    I’m sorry but I think you have received incorrect information, and I understand where there might be confusion. A map is attached and shows where the NOVEC substation, 13th high school, Jiffy Lube Pavilion, and the previously proposed high school site are located in relation to Silver Leaf Community. The substation will be located by the Jiffy Lube auxiliary parking area behind Industrial Park Ct. The rezoning is for a proposed data center which will be located next to the substation. The land that backs up to Silver Leaf (Sapphire Ridge) is planned for residential SRL (Suburban Residential Low). That has not changed and was not part of this rezoning. I would never approve any type of industrial rezoning that is adjacent to a residential community.

    The applicant did a streetscape which showed the building height was not visible from the homes closest to the site. The closest Silver Leaf homes were .55 miles away from the substation. If built, it will be similar to the other data center tucked in off Linton Hall Rd. right next to Piney Branch Elementary School. That data center is about .68 miles away from Sapphire Ridge. Additionally, the company agreed to increase their setback from University Drive and widen the standard tree buffers.

    As far as the notification process, applicants are required to notify each individual landowner within 200 feet of the project. I do not believe there were any residential properties within that 200’. The closest residences are almost 1000’ feet away from the outer edges of the parcel.

    If you have further questions, do not hesitate to call. Please also let your community know the correct location of this rezoning and feel free to share the attached slide with homeowners. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you or your entire community and bring maps, so please let me know if you are interested.

    Sincerely,

    Jeanine Lawson

    Saturday, October 29, 2022 Report this

  • Independent Voice

    I believe Curtis just made the resident's point. It should be up to the SUPERVISER to ensure distance requirements are met, not the affected resident. We know politicians say one thing and do another, but the resident has a point.

    We elect representatives to represent our interests, and they have failed.

    Thursday, November 3, 2022 Report this