Extra tax money from data centers won’t make up for our county’s permanent scarring

Marilyn Karp, a longtime Democratic Party campaigner, leads residents gathered at the Prince William County Government Center to call on At-large Oversight Board Chair Ann Wheeler (D) to resign after selling $50,000 of shares in data center companies.

By Tom Coyle

It seems clear to us that as a group, our local elected officials in Prince William County seem to be struggling to make decisions about the long-term strategic use of a scarce resource: our land.

Such land use decisions are essential to ensuring that our county continues to attract new residents and businesses and maintains the current attributes that have attracted current residents to call this place home.

The unique issue of large data centers near residences is complex and touches on hotly debated topics such as taxable income, open space use and zoning, and increased pressure to balance green space use. and residential growth.

While the various zoning laws, layover grids, etc., can be confusing and even contradictory, what is clear is that no one, neither elected officials nor county staff, seems to have heard of the law. of Moore. And if they did, they ignored it because it applies to these large buildings that are now popping up all over our county, much of which is rural or semi-rural.

Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit (IC) doubles approximately every two years. Moore’s Law is an observation and projection of a historical trend. Rather than a law of physics, it is an empirical relationship related to the gains from production experience.

It is understood that the interior of these centers consists mainly of servers and computer racks, which, if we apply Moore’s law, will decrease in size and therefore require less space to operate. What will happen in 10 or 20 years when the need for these 500,000 square foot buildings is no longer there? What incentive can our county offer a private company to continue occupying space that is not needed to operate and make a profit?

Why would they want to occupy a space of 500,000 square feet when, due to said law, they would only need a quarter or less of that space? To whom do the citizens turn then to raze the building and restore the neighborhood to its original nature?

All the additional taxes from these centers will not compensate for the permanent scarring of our county. Why can’t we analyze the best practices of other municipalities in the country and then apply the best of them to use as a framework?

Has an elected official or county staff considered the second and third order effects of approving the construction of these buildings and thereby degrading an important reason citizens move to Pricne William – a quality of high life

We implore our county-elected leaders to slow down and demand thoughtful, evidence-based staff consideration of these proposals. If we don’t have the expertise in-house, hire a highly respected national company to conduct it.

There is no rush to carefully consider all aspects of this issue, given the lasting impact it will have for years to come. The perceived short-term gains (more money in our county’s coffers) we believe define the false economy and remind us that the family cat is happily distracted by that shiny new object right in front of it to the exclusion of any something else.

We hope the elected leaders of Prince William County will reflect for a moment on why they ran for office in the first place: to help enrich the lives of the citizens they serve through thoughtful and informed decisions that affect us. all for generations to come.

Ramon J. Espinoza