The Prince William Board of County Supervisors is considering changes to the county’s overall plan to allow for industrial development in the rural crescent, including the proposed ‘Prince William Digital Gateway’. Based on the scope of the proposal – with its potential environmental, cultural and historic impacts affecting the county, neighboring counties and our nation – a full and independent environmental impact assessment must be conducted before a decision is made. to open 2,133 acres of rural crescent to data centers.
This impact assessment should be conducted by a qualified outside organization with input from local, regional, and national entities such as the Occoquan Basin Policy Council, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, National Park Service, and other subject matter experts and public interest organizations. While various limited studies are currently being conducted to assess the proposal, county supervisors appear to be rushing their decision before a full, independent environmental assessment is completed and without the information necessary to make an informed and responsible decision.
Delaying this assessment until rezoning requests requiring more detailed analyzes is not the solution. Because if the master plan is modified to allow the industrial development of the rural crescent, the floodgates will be open. The environmental impacts will be permanent and the quality of life for the citizens of this county, neighboring counties and even our nation will be forever changed. Supervisors have to think long and hard about how they are going to do this, because once the genie is out of its bottle, it can never be put back.