- The Washington Times - Friday, December 9, 2022

Homeowners in Prince William County, Virginia, have filed two lawsuits to stop data centers from being developed on 2,139 acres of privately held sites adjoining Manassas National Battlefield Park.
 
The Oak Valley Homeowners’ Association, Gainesville Citizens for Smart Growth and 12 individual residents of Heritage Hunt, Oak Valley and Catharpin filed the lawsuits against the Board of County Supervisors on Nov. 30 and Dec. 5 in county Circuit Court.
 
Both complaints ask the court to halt development of the PW Digital Gateway, a county plan to let QTS Realty Trust and Compass Datacenters redevelop 27.6 million square feet of battlefield sites never acquired by the park in a rural strip of the Occoquan Watershed. The plan “unlawfully force[s] the taxpayers” to purchase about 500 acres, one complaint says.
 
The Democratic-led county Board of Supervisors voted along party lines on Nov. 2 to redesignate the land on the battlefield park’s western border after a contentious, all-night public hearing. Developers have pledged to preserve historical artifacts and officials estimate the data centers would generate $400 million in annual tax revenue.
 
One lawsuit names the entire eight-member board as defendants. The other also specifically names as defendants board Chair Ann Wheeler, an at-large Democrat, and Supervisor Pete Candland, a Gainesville Republican who lives on the land and recused himself from the vote.

None of the supervisors named in the lawsuits responded to emails from The Washington Times. A spokesperson for Compass Datacenters declined to comment, noting that the complaints do not list Compass as a defendant.
 
The Prince William County Historical Commission, Manassas Battlefield National Park, the American Battlefield Trust and government bodies in neighboring Fairfax County all oppose the plan. 

More than 100 landowners in the development area have agreed to sell their properties for a collective $2.1 billion.



• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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