A clash broke out in front of the McCoart Buildings at 6:30 pm. when rival groups held rallies/press conferences prior to the public hearing on the Devlin Technology Park.
Residents had planned to hold a rally, weeks before. Monday, word got out that the Baltimore-DC Building Trades Council would also speak about the Devlin Tech Park Project. Both rallies were planned for the same time and place.
As parties were on opposite sides of the issue, a yelling match ensued. Residents resented the union's attempt to influence the vote.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26, planned to play a big part in the media conference, as they consider themselves among the project's stakeholders, and members were encouraged to show up in Prince William County.
This is significant because the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers [IBEW] was the largest political donor in the 2023 supervisor races.
This begs the question of how much sway the union will have over the Prince William Board of County Supervisors as they vote on the Devlin Technology Park proposed near Devlin Road in Bristow.
Overall the community is against the project, which would be located outside the data center overlay district. The applicant, Stanley Martin Homes, has previously rezoned the land to build homes on it, and residents would prefer it stay homes.
Although it is understandable that the union would advocate for its workers, some residents are insulted that this should be a premium concern.
Bill Wright is a Gainesville resident and vocal leader in opposition to data centers outside the overlay district. Today, Wright sent an email to media outlets, making them aware of the media conference, as well as the large contributions the IBEW made to Prince William Supervisors in the last election cycle.
In it, he delineates (citing VPAP), the amount of money each supervisor received from the IBEW, including the local 26 chapter.
Chair Ann Wheeler: $55,000 local in 2023. $12,500 (2022-23) from IBEW.
Occoquan Sup. Kenny Boyde-D: $47,500 from IBEW (2022-23)
Neabsco Sup. Victor Angry-D: $7,600 (2023).
Potomac Sup. Andrea Bailey-D: $7,600 (2022-23).
Woodbridge Sup. Margaret Angela Franklin-D: $7,600 (2022-23)
That is a total of $130,200 to sitting Democrats on the board.
Supervisors Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville), Bob Weir (Gainesville) and Yesli Vega (Coles), all Republicans, did not receive IBEW donations.
Wrights poses the questions, he hopes the media will ask the union leaders:
This is an evolving story. We reached out to the IBEW earlier today and will provide comments as soon as we receive them.