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Stafford County, Va., to Hold Meeting on Data Center Proposal

Two data center applications have been filed in Stafford County, both in the Falmouth District. A meeting has been set for this week to discuss the projects and what they could mean for the surrounding community.

(TNS) — Residents in Stafford County have a chance to get updated information Tuesday regarding possible data center development.

The county has a community meeting on data centers scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the George L. Gordon Jr. government center, at 1300 Courthouse Road, where officials will talk with residents about the potential development of data centers.

Data centers are server farms for cloud computing housed in large buildings filled with computer equipment.

At the state's urging, there has been an explosion in data center growth, so far primarily in the Northern Virginia counties of Loudoun and Prince William.

In recent months, data center developers have proposed millions of square feet of space in Spotsylvania County, and more applications have been filed in King George and Caroline counties.

Two data center applications have been filed in Stafford, both in the Falmouth District.

Stafford Board of Supervisor Meg Bohmke, who represents the Falmouth District, said the meeting will provide an overview of data centers, including their purpose and impact to areas around them.

"There's a lot to it," Bohmke said in an interview about what county staff has been doing to prepare for the data center applications. She added that there has been "a learning curve" for Stafford officials as well as other jurisdictions as the interest in data centers proliferates.

Bohmke noted several key issues with data centers, as experienced in other areas with the facilities, include electrical and water usage along with noise.

Data centers require a lot of power to run the servers and water to cool them, both of which can strain the system. Electrical usage is an issue that has arisen in Northern Virginia, with Dominion Power seeking upgrades to handle the facilities.

Noise also has been a factor because data center facilities have cooling fans atop the roofs constantly running to cool the building interior.

The Stafford Technology campus application, by Fairfax-based Stafford Technology LC, calls for building 5.5 million square feet of data centers on 523.94 acres on the east side of U.S. 1 and on both sides of Eskimo Hill Road. The property is currently zone agricultural, and the applicant wants to change it to light industrial.

Bohmke said homes aren't very close to the campus location, but there are houses and apartments near the other site, along Old Potomac Church Road.

The supervisor said she recently held a community meeting with residents who live near the tech center site and felt like it was a good informational meeting.

The Potomac Church Tech Center applicant, Amazon, wants to build two facilities totaling approximately 510,000 square feet on 49.9 acres, zoned B-2 for urban commercial development. The property is on the east side of Old Potomac Church Road, across from the intersection with South Campus Boulevard.

Data centers are allowed under the B-2 zoning, but there are limits Amazon is seeking to change with a proffer amendment.

©2023 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.