Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater created a Data Centers Workgroup in June 2023 to examine existing laws and other issues related to this relatively new and rapidly changing industry. The workgroup is in response to recommendations from two Transition Team committees – Economic Development and Sustainability, Infrastructure and Transportation – to convene stakeholders to develop a model for critical data infrastructure that leverages the benefits data centers can provide while protecting the environment and Frederick County’s quality of life.
“The data center industry brought economic and tax benefits to Northern Virginia, and it also brought concerns about environmental sustainability, energy and water usage, noise, vibration, and impacts on the quality of life,” County Executive Fitzwater said. “This community-led, government-informed workgroup will consider the issues surrounding data centers in an open and transparent public process and issue recommendations for the County Council to consider.”
County Executive Fitzwater also signed an executive order directing the Department of Planning & Permitting to pause piecemeal rezoning requests until the workgroup issues its report.
“One of the most important questions facing our community is where data centers can be located and, by extension, where they will not be allowed,” County Executive Fitzwater said. “Pausing piecemeal rezonings for several months will ensure that everyone is on a level playing field after the workgroup issues its report and the County Council considers any changes to our law.”
The Data Center Workgroup will examine lessons from Northern Virginia’s experience with data centers and consider: appropriate locations for data centers; taxation issues related to data centers; water, power, and other infrastructure needs of data centers; community benefits that can be derived from the data center industry; and potential amendments to the County’s critical digital infrastructure law. The workgroup meetings will be broadcast on FCG TV and will be subject to open meetings laws. Meeting details will be posted to this web page as they are scheduled.
“Residents of Frederick County expect us to get this right, and the County Executive assembled a balanced group with a range of perspectives,” said Council Member Renee Knapp, who will serve on the workgroup. “Together, we will propose a fair regulatory structure that preserves our environment, protects our quality of life, and provides stability and predictability for those who want to invest in the data center industry.”
In addition to Council Member Knapp, members of the workgroup include:
• Daryl Boffman, business and technology consultant and civic leader
• Karen Cannon, Executive Director of Mobilize Frederick
• Harry George, retired telecommunications executive and environmental advocate
• Faith Klareich, Chair of the Frederick County Sustainability Commission
• Tom Lynch, Lynch Law & Mediation
• Kelly Schulz, Maryland Tech Council
• Chris Vigliotti, Brunswick City Councilmember
• Paul Walker, retired client solutions executive and environmental advocate
• Kraig Walsleben, Rodgers Consulting
• Brian Sweeney, Frederick County Farm Bureau
• Mike McHale, IBEW Local 24
The Data Centers Workgroup is supported by the County Executive’s Senior Advisor Pat Murray, who supported the Transition Team, and staff from County divisions.