Friday, May 10, 2024

Comments on Mid-county Industrial Park - Planning Commission

On behalf of the Prince William Conservation Alliance,
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the Mid-County Industrial Park and the proposed rezoning of approximately 40.91 acres from A-1 Agricultural to M-2 Light Industrial, as well as the associated amendments to the proffers. This proposal is next to neighborhoods and across the street from Prince William Forest Park. While I understand the need for development and economic growth, I believe we can do so without sacrificing our environmental standards and the well-being of our communities in the process.

First and foremost, I am troubled by the rush to approve this rezoning. Staff has reviewed the industrial portion of this proposal only once and to my knowledge have not yet fully reviewed the third submission. While staff recommends approval, they do so noting that this is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan sections on the environment. Why is this being fast-tracked without attempting to meet the minimal criteria outlined in the comprehensive plan? This rushed approach raises questions about transparency and thoroughness in evaluating the potential environmental and community impacts of this development.

Furthermore, the disregard for wetland regulations is alarming. The evidence of wetland filling should not be overlooked, and it is unacceptable that no violation has been issued. Instead of addressing this violation, the proposal seeks to build on top of the filled wetland, setting a dangerous precedent of disregarding environmental regulations in favor of development interests.

Additionally, the proposed buffer zones are woefully inadequate, particularly in areas abutting residential communities and along Dumfries Road. The proximity of the substation to residential neighborhoods, coupled with the height waiver, will undoubtedly have negative impacts on the quality of life for nearby residents. 

The clearing of high-quality forest land is another significant concern. The proposed Limits of Disturbance indicate the clearance of mature forest, which not only disrupts local ecosystems but also fails to recognize the importance of preserving green spaces and wildlife habitats. Upholding standards for natural open space protects adjacent neighborhoods and air and water quality downwind/stream. The county spent $ 1 million dollars restoring Powells Creek, highlighting the cost of repair when damage is already done. We should be requesting development standards that protect that investment. 

Moreover, the lack of discussion on power and water usage is troubling. Data centers are known for their high energy and water consumption, yet the application fails to address how these resources will be supplied and managed. This oversight raises serious questions about the sustainability of the proposed development.

Finally, I urge the Planning Commission to consider the cumulative impacts of data center development on our community. The rapid increase in data center projects must be met with caution, as it could have far-reaching consequences for our grid reliability, air and water quality, and overall environmental sustainability. Elected leaders should prioritize understanding and mitigating these impacts before further endorsing large-scale industrial projects.

In conclusion, I urge the Planning Commission to reject the current proposal for the Mid-County Industrial Park rezoning until these concerns are adequately addressed. Our environmental standards must be upheld, and the well-being of our communities must take precedence over expedited development interests. Read more Action Alert

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