Loudoun County, Va., home to the largest data center cluster in the world known as Data Center Alley, recently took steps to prohibit the growth of new server farms in certain parts of the county.
The county’s board of supervisors moved to remove parts of the county from the fast-track, by-right pre-approval status by which developers could build data centers without the requirement to submit plans to zoning or planning board hearings. Neighborhoods designated as suburban mixed-use, suburban neighborhood, suburban compact, or urban transit center (UTC) zones will lose fast-track status.
The updated policy also prescribes new design and environmental standards for data processing facilities. Existing data centers in the UTC zone are exempt from the new policy. Data center industry advocates said the board still must clarify whether existing facilities will be prohibited from expanding in the UTC.
The county’s action is a response to public opposition to new data center projects that have been proposed in rural areas of northern Virginia, including near some historic Civil War battlefield sites. In addition, regional utility Dominion Energy has said it won’t be able to expand its transmission capacity in Loudoun County fast enough to support deliveries of some new data center facilities.