Prince William’s owners take legal action to block data centers next to Manassas battlefield

Landlords in Prince William County, Va., have filed two lawsuits to prevent data center development on 2,139 acres of private sites adjoining Manassas Battlefield State Park.

The Oak Valley Homeowners Association, Gainesville Citizens for Smart Growth and 12 individual residents of Heritage Hunt, Oak Valley and Catharpin filed lawsuits against the County Board of Supervisors on November 30 and December 5 in the Circuit Court of county.

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 before acquired by the park in a rural strip of the Occoquan watershed. The plan to “unlawfully force[s] taxpayers” to purchase about 500 acres, according to one complaint.

The Democratic-led County Board of Supervisors voted Nov. 2 to redesignate the land on the western border of Battlefield Park after a contentious all-night public hearing. Developers have pledged to preserve historic artifacts, and officials estimate the data centers would generate $400 million in annual tax revenue.

A lawsuit names the entire eight-member board of directors as defendants. The other also specifically names as defendants Board Chair Ann Wheeler, a general Democrat, and Supervisor Pete Candland, a Republican from Gainesville who lives in the field 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 name Compass as a defendant.

The Prince William County Historical Commission, Manassas Battlefield State Park, the American Battlefield Trust and government agencies 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 amount of $2.1 billion.


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