By Kevin Ramundo, Citizens for Fauquier County President
In 2023, CFFC became a stronger organization and more capable than ever to preserve Fauquier County and our rural traditions.
Mitigating the proliferation of data centers in Fauquier was job one, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to believe how neighboring counties continue to favor new tax revenues from data centers over the well-being of their communities, environmental priorities and protecting open space and historical resources. Who would have ever thought two or three years ago that almost 2,000 acres adjacent to the Manassas National Battlefield would be rezoned to allow over 30 data centers, and that Prince William and Loudoun could have more data centers than anywhere in the world.
CFFC’s efforts to oppose data centers include: educating the public; reviewing all related proposals and zoning issues; and, engaging with developers and officials regarding how and where data centers should be built. We initiated lawsuits to overturn the approval of Amazon’s data center in Warrenton and to hold the town accountable for failing to live up to its responsibility for transparency under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA). We were encouraged last year when twenty-four organizations joined us in Amicus briefs in our VFOIA case appeal; and separately, when a judge decided that our legal arguments asserting that the Amazon permit was improperly granted were valid. We intend to add to these successes in 2024.
Since data centers require massive amounts of electricity, it was no surprise that last Fall, the regional power grid authority proposed five high-voltage transmission line routes that would crisscross Fauquier County to supply electricity to data centers in Loudoun and Prince William counties. One route that would impact southern Fauquier was ultimately recommended, and CFFC believes it’s just a matter of time before more power lines try to invade our scenic landscape.
In light of these and other daunting challenges, we have undertaken major fundraising efforts and are very appreciative of the unprecedented support from existing and new members so we can increase CFFC’s capabilities. We have also recruited four new board members, adding to the five board members who joined us in 2022, and hired a part-time administrative assistant. Most of what CFFC accomplishes is based on the hard work of its volunteer board.
Our successes in 2023 also included a record turnout for our annual Kitty P. Smith Conservation Award event; our participation with other conservation organizations to publish a Rural Lands Manual to inspire land owners to treasure their properties; and, sponsorship of a public forum for candidates running for the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.
Looking ahead to 2024, we will remain focused on the data center threat, the most consequential one in our county’s history, and on other un-wise developments. We are dedicated exclusively to preserving Fauquier County and are counting on your continued generosity to help us preserve our treasured county for future generations.
This story appeared in CFFC's February 2024 edition of The Monitor. View the publication in its entirety here.