BOCS Meeting Recap: Bipartisan Discussions on Data Center ZTA, Redistricting Language, More

BOCS Meeting Recap: Bipartisan Discussions on Data Center ZTA, Redistricting Language, More

A message from Supervisor Boddye…
Last Tuesday, the Board of County Supervisors held the last in a seven-week run of consecutive meetings. We will next meet June 16. This seemed like a good time to resurrect the practice of doing a meeting recap. Here are highlights of what the Board accomplished on May 18, 2021:
  • Appropriated $87M+ in Federal funds for Prince William County Public Schools, from the America Recovery Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds.
  • Marked progress on parks projects in the Occoquan District, discussing what’s next for Harbor Drive Wellness Park and the Occoquan Greenway, as well as receiving updates on publics works projects such as the new animal shelter nearing completion.
  • Made good on promise to take swift action to preserve Thoroughfare and other historical communities, weighing staff proposals on how to identify, highlight and preserve graves and other historic aspects, as well as initiatives to preserve African American history countywide. The Board directed staff to continue researching the initiatives, and committed to funding them when they are ready to implement. (Read more.)
  • Endorsed a grant application for critical Occoquan District road projects: Route 123 improvements at I-95, Route 1, and Old Bridge Road Project through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Discretionary Grant Program for Federal Funding. That includes the realignment of the 123/Old Bridge Road intersection to fix both the northbound and southbound traffic issues.
  • Initiated a zoning text amendment (ZTA) to study the current Data Center Overlay District, as well as the design standards, construction manual, and comprehensive plan guidelines surrounding these facilities so that we can make zoning decisions based on data and known best practices.
    • Approved in a 5-3 vote, the measure still elicited productive bipartisan discussion, with unanimous direction for staff to include considerations of redevelopment, opportunity costs of developing data centers over other commercial/industrial uses, mixed-use development alongside other industries, and options for data center overlay map changes, with the accompanying impact analyses and costs.
    • Did not take any action that would expand data centers into the rural area, and the Pageland Lane application remains a separate proposal.
    • Created framework to mitigate the impacts of future data centers anywhere in the County. All data center proposals should factor in environmental impacts, industrial diversification, viewsheds, etc., regardless of in which area of Prince William they seek to locate.
    • Based on the directive I gave to begin this process, staff focused on three core principles: Engage existing and new stakeholders, incorporate methods to embrace green technology, and encourage the conservation of green and open spaces, as data centers are developed in a more holistic way.
    • Authorized staff to engage a subject matter expert to complete the scope of work, which includes a full study of environmental (water, air, soil and sewer) and fiscal impacts that takes under consideration all needed infrastructure (power, water, fiber, sewer). The Board also directed staff to lean into emerging industry trends towards facilities becoming more sustainable, compact, and less intrusive.
    • Added my own direction for staff to include labor, environmental groups, sustainability experts, National Park Service, historic preservation organizations in stakeholder discussions, to ensure that all voices are heard and that whatever comes forward is community-powered and information-driven.
  • Adopted a set of criteria and general plan for the 2021 Redistricting process. The Board adopted fairness principles crafted on a bipartisan basis, agreed to hire an outside contractor to manage the process, and requested options for both seven and eight district configurations so that any decisions will be made with a full set of data. I have long advocated to take the redistricting process as far away from legislators as possible, so I’m glad we were able to agree to having an outside contractor be in the driver’s seat.
  • Streamlined and improved compensation and pension policies for public safety personnel, authorized a public hearing to expand gypsy moth and mosquito controls and outreach to include spotted lanternflies and other pests and conveyed River Heritage Blvd in Potomac Shores into VDOT’s Secondary System of State Highways, giving them the responsibility of maintaining the road in lieu of the County.
  • Proclaimed May Foster Care Month, with Chair Wheeler and I presenting to DSS Director Courtney Tierney and DSS Board Member Hilda Barg.
  • Briefed on the County’s continued progress in the fight against COVID-19, with both mass vaccination and targeted clinics efforts and the ramping down of testing initiatives. I asked specifically about the availability of vaccines for minors in the western end of the County, as well as preparing for booster shots in the months to come.
  • Presented a commendation my office crafted in collaboration with Dr. Jack Kooyoomjiam, to¬†thank retiring LOCCA-PELT President Tom Burrell from for his long years of service to the community.
  • Held public hearings on the conveyance of an underground electric power easement on Davis Ford Road, also reserving areas for future stormwater management systems on University Blvd, authorizing “quick take” of property in connection with the Balls Ford Road interchange project, appropriating funds for a streetlight project at Innovation, and accepting FEMA funds to recoup costs associated with addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.