NAO-2020-00426 (MNZ01 Data Center, Prince William, Virginia)

Published March 31, 2023
Expiration date: 5/1/2023

March 31, 2023  
NAO-2020-00426, VMRC# 21-V2154


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

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

PROJECT LOCATION:  On the north line of Balls Ford Road, east of Jacksonville Avenue, in Prince William County, Virginia.

PROJECT SIZE: Approximately 40 acres


LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: Lat: 38.798075, Long: -77.534214

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE:  The applicant has proposed to construct a data center to be known as MNZ01 Balls Ford Road Data Center. The project would include two 3-story buildings, internal roads, parking, a pump station, an electric power substation, utilities, and stormwater facility.  The Corps issued a Public Notice for the proposed project on 21 February 2022. Because the proposed wetland impacts have increased since that time, the Corps is issuing a second Public Notice. As revised, the project would permanently impact 2.05 acres of palustrine forested wetlands (PFO) and 424 liner feet of stream channel; temporarily impact 25 linear feet of stream channel; and permanently convert 0.29 acre of PFO to palustrine emergent wetlands.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION:  The applicant has evaluated alternative sites and alternative layouts for the proposed project. These alternatives are discussed in the Joint Permit Application and are under review. The Corps will issue a permit for the proposed project only if all wetland and stream impacts have been avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has proposed to mitigate for wetland impacts by purchasing 4.39 wetland credits and 410 stream credits from an approved wetland/stream mitigation bank(s) authorized to sell credits within the 02070010 Hydrologic Unit Code.  

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’ website (Application)


( )        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:

Based upon the Corps’ submission to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Information and Planning and Consultation (IPaC) and a standing analysis completed by the USFWS, the proposed project has reached the determination of “May Affect, Not Likely to Adversely Affect” the Northern long-eared bat.

Additional information might change any of these findings.


The Corps identified historic properties within the Corps permit area. A cultural resources survey was conducted on the project site and a report prepared: “Phase 1 Cultural Resources Survey of the 16.4-Hectare (40.6-Acre) Westview 66, Project Area, dated April 2021, by Dutton and Associates, LLC.  The cultural resources survey and report are a reasonable and good faith effort to identify historic properties.  The project site is located in proximity of the Manassas National Battlefield Park( DHR # 076-0271), property listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Virginia Landmark Register.

ADVERSE EFFECT DETERMINATION:  In consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office, and in consideration of views concerning effects provided by consulting parties, including the National Park Service (NPS) the Corps applied the criteria of adverse effect to historic properties within the permit area.  The Corps determines that the proposed federal action would result in an adverse effect on the Manassas National Battlefield Park.  The Corps is consulting further to develop and evaluate alternatives or modifications to the undertaking that could avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects on historic properties.  The Corps, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the permittee, and the NPS to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) under Section 106 of the NHPA. 

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) 659-1915 or e-mail:

The applicant has submitted concurrence.

VIRGINIA’S SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule (Certification Rule, 40 CFR 121), effective September 11, 2020, requires certification, or waiver, for any license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge. The scope of a CWA Section 401 certification is limited to ensuring that a discharge from a Federally licensed or permitted activity will comply with water quality requirements. To comply with the Virginia Section 401 Water Quality Certification Program and the Certification Rule, the applicant is responsible for adhering to the procedures outlined in the Certification Rule when requesting certification from the certifying authority, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In accordance with Certification Rule part 121.12, the Corps will notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator when it has received a Department of the Army (DA) permit application and the related certification. The Administrator is responsible for determining whether the discharge may affect water quality in a neighboring jurisdiction. The DA permit may not be issued pending the conclusion of the Administrator’s determination of effects on neighboring jurisdictions.

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), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, VA  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on May 1, 2023.

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 Dr. Silvia B. Gazzera. 804-212-6817, or

Vicinity Map 
Impact Map 
Official Species List