Loudoun Residents Weigh in On Data Centers

Covering over 25 million square feet of land, Loudoun County is home to more data centers than anywhere else in the world. As the data center industry in Loudoun County continues to expand, local opinion continues to swarm. In a recent survey of 58 Loudoun residents regarding their views about data centers in Loudoun County, conducted by Loudoun County Magazine, many Loudoun County residents expressed a wide range of thoughts about the region’s growing data center industry.

When participants were asked if they believe that data centers should be built near residential areas, 75 percent of respondents believed they should not be built near residential areas. 

One participant noted that data center placement in population dense parts of the county, such as in Ashburn and Sterling, were unsightly for those who live there. They commented, “[I] would prefer [data centers] in less populated areas of the county. [I] would rather see nature or family friendly businesses near residential areas.” 

Another participant concurred. “They are an eyesore. And [they] are unfortunately everywhere you look near residential areas in Loudoun.”

However, other Loudoun  residents don’t see any issue with living in close proximity to data centers. “Why not? I don’t think they pose a danger due to pollution or traffic, and at the same time they generate income.” 

Participants were split when asked if they believe that land values should change with the addition of data centers. 56 percent of participants agreed and 44 percent disagreed. 42 percent of people that agreed believe that residential and land values should decrease in areas close to data centers. 

Those who disagree that land values should change with the addition of data centers feel as if data centers’ effect on land values should be treated no differently than the effect of highways or construction on land values. One participant remarked, “I feel it’s independent. Unless the data center is within sight of my own home, it’s no different to me as seeing highways or powerlines.”

95 percent of those surveyed agree that Loudoun County should designate a data center region and prioritize keeping data centers away from residential areas. Based on an overwhelming majority of comments for this survey, many would like to have data centers in the Northern Virginia region, rather than primarily in Loudoun county. 

Participants felt that Loudoun County government officials should require data centers to be integrated into the natural landscape of the area. One participant remarked, “The data centers should be better landscaped, hidden by trees and shrubs. Data centers should follow stricter guidelines so they are less obtrusive.” 

Another stated, “I think data centers should be built on land that is unsuitable for housing. They are unattractive and have ruined the look of many neighborhoods in Ashburn.”

A majority of surveyed participants said that the mass amount of data centers in an area affects  their decision when moving and purchasing a home in the area. Participants felt that the appearance of data centers takes away from the natural beauty of the area. 

“I want to live in an area that has access to nature and a community feel. Data centers distract from both of those things.” Another stated, “They take up space that could be used for better things.”

Those who answered that they did not feel that the presence of data centers influenced their decision to move to Loudoun and buy a home, felt that the volume of data centers in an area would not sway their decision when buying a home.

“Unless they were in my backyard, it would not make any difference to me.” Another stated, “I like the area regardless.”

Currently, Loudoun County’s “Data Center Alley” in Ashburn is home to more data centers than any other county in the United States.

What do you think? Should Loudoun County continue to expand its inclusion of data centers? Please email your feedback to info@loudouncountymagazine.com

Article by Gillian Amrein, a student at Heritage High School in Loudoun County

Illustration by Callia Sun, a student at Riverside High School in Loudoun County

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