Wrapping Up Matters in 2023, or Not

Supervisors to take action on two controversial items, a data center in Chantilly and Dark Skies in Great Falls.

As the year comes to a close, the Board of Supervisors has yet to hear two contentious issues for which the Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended approval. One will not be heard in 2023, and the other will. Two more meetings of the full Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are scheduled, one next week on Tuesday, Nov. 21, and the other on Dec. 5.

“The Data Center voting/public hearing has been deferred by the BOS to Jan. 23 at 4 p.m.,” confirmed Frances Best, Communications Director for Chairman Jeff McKay Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

The data center proposal was originally to get a public hearing before the County Board of Supervisors in October. The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended approval of Penzance's zoning request with six votes in favor during a five-hour public meeting that began on Sept. 20 and went into the early hours of Sept. 21. Penzance applied to rezone a 12.1-acre plot off Lee Jackson Memorial Highway to allow for a 402,000-square-foot data center or a 150,000-square-foot warehouse. The rendering of the building shows a three-story data center.

Earlier this fall, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors delayed its previously anticipated Oct. 24 vote on the controversial matter of building and operating a data center on the south side of Route 50 in Chantilly. The plan was to hold the vote after the Nov. 7 general election and the new board is seated. The data center is proposed in Supervisor Kathy Smith’s district, and is too close for comfort for local residents.


DARK SKIES An effort to preserve dark skies around an astronomical facility, received a vote of support from the Fairfax County Planning Commission at its Oct. 18 meeting. The commissioners recommended approval of regulations to preserve the night sky around Turner Farm Park Observatory in Great Falls. The proposed regulations would limit outdoor lighting on properties within one-half mile of the observatory, and according to the staff report, “in general, the proposed revisions allow for flexibility for outdoor lighting within one-half mile of the observatory while preserving dark skies.” The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear the matter on Tuesday, Nov. 21, with a public hearing scheduled at 3:30 p.m.

According to the agenda, on single-family lots within the one-half-mile area, fixtures that are exempt from certain other lighting regulations are limited to the following: motion-activated lighting fixtures of 1,500 lumens or less; lighting fixtures at an exterior door or garage of 1,500 lumens or less; and lighting fixtures with up to 20 lumens. The proposal also limits uplights or spotlights within the one-half-mile area to 300 lumens. Editorial revisions to clarify when previously existing lighting fixtures may remain and add a new provision to allow lawfully existing fixtures within a one-half-mile radius around the Observatory to remain.

A copy of the staff report and the full text of the proposed ordinance are available online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/zoning-ordinance/amendments and can be made available for review at the Zoning Administration Division, Department of Planning and Development, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035.

A final agenda is available for review in the Office of the Clerk for the Board and at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/boardofsupervisors/board-supervisors-meetings.