Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Dec. 7, 2021
Expiration date: 1/8/2022

December 7, 2021

The District Commander has received a joint permit application (JPA) for Federal and State permits as described below:

Nova 1 Owner, LLC
1 Federal Street, Floor 17
Boston, Massachusetts, 02110

PROJECT LOCATION:  Project “Celtics” is located along the eastern side of Sycolin Road just north of Dulles Greenway (VA-267) in Loudoun County, Virginia.


NEAREST WATERWAY: The project drains towards Sycolin Creek, which is located within the Sycolin Creek (PL15) watershed of Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 02070008 (Middle Potomac-Catoctin); the southeastern corner of the Project along Energy Park Drive drains towards Goose Creek, which is located within the Goose Creek-Big Branch (PL14) watershed of HUC 02070008.  

LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: 39.0555° Latitude and -77.5457° Longitude

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to develop a data center campus with 7 multi-story buildings, parking areas, internal access roads, substation, stormwater management facilities, pump station, utilities, and other associated infrastructure. The development proposes permanent impacts to 2,588 linear feet of stream channel, 0.54 acre of palustrine forested wetlands (PFO), and temporary impacts to 79 linear feet of stream channel.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  Offsite alternatives considered: land currently zoned for data centers; property allowing a minimum of 2 million square feet of data center space; specific building height limitations; minimized environmental impacts; and existing major utility services.  

Onsite Alternatives (Exhibit B and Exhibit C) considered impacts to wetlands and streams but limited grading and building layouts for a viable data center.

For further details on onsite and offsite alternatives please refer to the JPA located at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s link below.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant proposes permanent impacts to 0.54 acre of PFO wetlands and 2,588 linear feet of stream.  Based on the standard mitigation-to-loss ratio of 2:1 for PFO impacts, the project requires 1.08 wetland credits as compensation. The stream impact reaches were assessed using the US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District and DEQ’s Unified Stream Methodology (USM) and determined the appropriate amount of compensation to be 3,116 stream credits (equivalent to a total of 5,545 Stream Condition Units) to compensate for stream impacts.  All wetland and stream credits are to be purchased from an approved mitigation bank that serves the project site watershed (Hydrologic Unit Code 02070008).

In addition, the applicant must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.  

A copy of the joint permit application can be found on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s website (here)

(  )       Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).
(x)       Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.
(  )       Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972  (33 U.S.C. 1413).

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION:  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.  The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public, federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal.  To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above.  Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Preliminary review of the application indicates that no EIS will be required.

Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing.  The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: after conducting the Norfolk District Endangered Species Act (ESA) Project Review Process, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that:

The Northern long-eared bat may be affected, but the FWS Information and Planning and Consultation (IPaC) 4(d) determination key was completed and no further coordination with the FWS is required.

Additional information might change any of these findings.

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: No known Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal.

Additional information may change any of these findings.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the NMFS on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

There is no EFH in the Corps area of responsibility.

VIRGINIA’S COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Virginia’s Coastal Zone, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program (Virginia CZM Program), and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the OEIR for concurrence or objection, and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found in the Federal Consistency Manual here: .  For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the Virginia CZM Program, contact the DEQ-OEIR at (804) 698-4204 or e-mail:

No concurrence is required because the project is not located within Virginia’s Coastal Zone.

VIRGINIA’S SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: The applicant must obtain, from the Virginia DEQ, a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for any federal license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge into waters of the U.S. (40 CFR Part 121).  As the Certifying Authority, the Virginia DEQ may grant, grant with conditions, or deny a certification request.  Alternatively, the Virginia DEQ may waive, expressly or implicitly, its authority to act on a certification request.  In either case, a written notice of waiver from DEQ (expressly waived) or from the Corps (implicitly waived), satisfies the project proponent’s requirement to obtain certification.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WRR), 1329 Alum Spring Road, Suite 102, Fredericksburg, VA  22401, and should be received by the close of business on January 8, 2022.

PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY:  Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Ms. Regena Bronson at, or at 757-201-7828.