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Data centers or mixed-use? Supervisors grapple with what to put east of Loudoun County Parkway

Dupont Fabros’ land east of Loudoun County Parkway and airport noise contours.
Should Loudoun supervisors allow more mixed-use communities on the east side of Loudoun County Parkway in their Silver Line small area plan around future Metro stops?

The question caused quite a stir at the board’s public hearing last week.

More than a dozen citizens, heads of nearby homeowner’s associations and representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) and Dupont Fabros Development made the case for why mixed-use developments should -- and should not -- be permitted just outside of the area known as the airport overlay district, where residential development is restricted to not interfere with operations of Dulles Airport.

MWAA urged the board to not approve mixed-use east of Loudoun County Parkway and not to move forward with a noise study they say could cost roughly $1 million. The airports authority said the noise study and having more residential closer to the airport could significantly impact airport operations.

If mixed-use is not approved, however, Dupont Fabros warned it would scrap a plan for a mixed-use development on a 230-acre parcel of land between the future Loudoun Gateway Station and Route 772 Station and instead move forward with building data centers on the property, which are a by-right use.

Residents and Dupont Fabros representatives said mixed-use is needed to ensure the area around the future Metro stops can be economically viable. They also argued the mixed-use would be needed for the county to truly have the mixed-use, transit-oriented development around the Metro it has long envisioned.

“We ask that the board reconsider and put the eastern portion of Loudoun County Parkway to Dupont lands into [urban mixed-use medium buildings],” said Tony Calabrese of Cooley, the land-use firm representing Dupont Fabros. “If you don’t, unfortunately, we will all continue to just do what Mr. Buddy Rizer has done so well ... let’s just not do data centers.”

Dupont Fabros representatives said the 230-acre parcel of land accounts for about 40 percent of total county land in the CPAM with the potential for mixed-use.

Dupont Fabros Development is a separate company from data center giant Dupont Fabros Technology, although Dupont Fabros Technology's Chairman Lammot Dupont, is a part owner of Dupont Fabros Development.

In November, the board cast preliminary votes on its land-use vision in the Silver Line small area plan.

One of scenarios they endorsed included a land-use map proposed by Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) that outlined a high-density urban area around the Ashburn Metro station, but a non-residential, employment and open space area around the Loudoun Gateway Station near Dulles Airport, which includes Dupont Fabros’ land.

Debate around whether to add more residential units and mixed-use development closer to Dulles Airport comes as residents have been complaining for years over the noise around Reagan National Airport

According to media reports, noise concerns around Reagan have heightened since 2015 after the Federal Aviation Administration made changes to air traffic patterns. A group of Maryland leaders are now demanding the FAA conduct a thorough review of noise generated by departing and incoming flights at Reagan Airport.

“People living around Reagan National are pushing hard to get loud airplanes moved away from their homes. But here at Dulles, we have people pushing to put homes closer to the loud airplanes,” MWAA’s Vice President for Communications David Mould said. “It’s an interesting difference between the situation at an older airport that has a lot of residential development around it already, and a newer airport ... which doesn’t.

Mould said Reagan Airport would be unable to grow due to those development constraints. He cautioned the same could happen at Dulles if more residential is permitted by the airport.

But residents and heads of nearby homeowner’s associations maintained that if Dupont Fabros moved forward with data centers it would compromise the transit system’s potential for economic success.

“People right now, when they get excited about Loudoun County they get excited about Ashburn, they get excited about the Metro,” Christal Golston, a real estate broker and Ashburn resident, said. “They are not excited about the data centers. People are actually moving away from Ashburn because of all the data centers.”

Instead of casting straw poll votes on the land-use scenarios during the public hearing, the board agreed to forward consideration on the Silver Line CPAM to its June 22 business meeting for action.

Following the board’s action on the CPAM, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will review the item, then the county will formally implement the plan.

Comments


John M, while I won’t argue with your data-driven analysis that resulted in your detailed finding of “nothing”, using the same amount of research and analytics as you, I’ll just say, the Metro near Springfield didn’t make the existing traffic any worse. And so in a vacuum of “doing nothing”, doing something is at least an attempt to move the needle. If you’re not tryin’, you’re dyin’, as some would say.


John M.
“Metro will just please a few people… a handful of commuters” Thanks for proving my point. Even one car off the road at the busiest of times will provide alleviate congestion during the busiest of times. I’m not claiming it to be a panacea. You argument of, “Just look at Springfield, Metro did nothing to improve the traffic situation there.” is a logical fallacy. I’d be more than happy to look at your research showing before/after metro congestion rates, which would of course not be impacted by new hot lanes, VRE to Fredericksburg, widening I-95, 495 or 395, an explosion in population of the DMV area, and of course the rise of telecommuting.

But hey just waste taxpayer money widening roads, that should cure the problem. People love their cars too much.


Never met a data center yet we had to build an artificial turf football field for…


Granted the data centers are eyesores, however it is the power that they soak up that bothers me. How many additional transformers are needed to support the data centers?


pacerguy00: People love their cars way too much to give them up. The county and state can build all the bike paths and metro stations they want, and you will will not see a reduction in car traffic. Metro will just please a few people heading to Nats or Capitals games and a handful of commuters, but traffic on our roads will remain heavy. Just look at Springfield, Metro did nothing to improve the traffic situation there.


Let’s not forget Evermont Trace - Supporting the Evermont Trace plan were supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), who represents the area of Evermont Trace.

One must understand why those who supported it did. And then consider, who of them are still on the Board…when you look at someone’s career in the macro, you really get to understand them, and they become a lot easier to predict. And hence, they shouldn’t surprise you w/ their actions.


The data centers are eyesores for sure.  Its obvious that those companies just want to build the largest, cheapest, structure possible and don’t care about aesthetics.

But apparently the only 2 things that anyone wants to build in eastern Loudoun are mixed use developments and data centers.

Given those 2 choices I’ll take the data centers every time.


Data Centers are cash flow positive from a tax viewpoint.  Mixed use is cash flow negative because of schools, road modification/maintenance, and county services like law enforcement and fire and rescue.  I think they are ugly buildings and could use some curb appeal modifications but I am all for data centers regardless.


The data centers are so ugly.  They look like penitentiaries.  Can we at least require some screening with foliage around these monstrosities.


@snowdenscold

If you’re interested in more cars off the road, then you should fully support mass-transit or multi-modal transit options like protected bike lanes, road diets, light rail, and BRT. The more options we provide to non-drivers the less room/cars there will be on the road


Condemn Fabros’s property and turn it into a park if he wants to play hardball.

“According to media reports, noise concerns around Reagan have heightened since 2015 after the Federal Aviation Administration made changes to air traffic patterns.”

To point, that change was that aircraft take off lower and slower to save fuel (I’m not kidding).  I’m miles from Dulles and have noticed the difference in the noise level from aircraft and it is irritating. 

Putting houses in this area will be a never-ending nightmare for future Boards as they deal with constantly complaining constituents.

For once, MWAA got something right!!!


No more ugly giant data centers! Let’s just use the space for nature.


Classic realtor speak near the end of the article.

I personally AM excited about Data Centers - every time I drive by one trying to get to Route 28, I’m thankful it’s not 600 town homes adding additional delay trying to make simple trips in the county.

Call it NIMBY if you want, but we should be trying to improve our east-west traffic flow, not make it worse.


Great false choice our BOS offers.
How about incentives for parks or green space or something that would offer *any* benefit to current residents.

We have plenty of stores and chain restaurants already.  Can we ever turn our attention toward quality of life issues?


Hello I live near an airport and I’d like to complain about the noisy planes.  I knew there was an airport nearby when I moved here but I never imagined that there would always be planes landing and taking off.  It’s ridiculous that President Trump has yet to address those of us affected by such loud noises.  I mean, I can be watching TV sometimes and I’ll literally hear a plane fly overhead.  Crazy. 

Anyways - data centers please.  Loudoun should take some pride in being such a huge hub of the Internet.  As it grows, so too should the data centers in Loudoun.  We can charge rent to everybody who accesses info stored in Loudoun.  Boom, synthetic turf fields for everybody!


Who in the right mind would live near Dulles airport and put up with that noise? Developers need to have their head examined and BOS should say NO. By the way, apartments near 1 Loudoun metro stop could go as high as $5742K/month for 2 bedroom(1bedroom - $4000/month, other 2 bedrooms with den you have to call). Currently, 75% of those renting now could never afford those prices.


Dupont Fabros can take their “our way or else” attitude and shove it.

Are they going to pay for the extra schools and infrastructure required for yet another mixed use development? 

Not a chance.  They just want to dump their garbage on our doorstep, turn a quick profit, and then stick Loudoun with the bill.  Go ahead and build the data centers.


Data Centers.  Mixed Use just means more schools, roads, traffic, headaches.

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