Northern Virginia is the heart of the internet. Not everyone is happy about that.

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Northern Virginia is home to about 275 data centers, handling at least a third of the world’s online use, with dozens more of the massive structures either under construction or planned as local officials seek to tap into the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue generated by an industry that requires few government services in return. And as more people use cloud computing devices in their daily lives — streaming video, storing files, Zooming to work — their actions fuel a demand for even more data centers to store, process and disseminate that digital information. The growth in the industry has sparked debates about local land use policies in neighborhoods where data center buildings — some the size of several football fields — sit less than 100 feet from the nearest home. Residents and some local legislators argue that the industry’s footprint in the region is expanding too much, too fast and in the wrong places, posing potential risks to the surrounding environment — and, in some cases, creating noise from cooling fans that disrupt neighborhoods.

Northern Va. is the heart of the internet. Not everyone is happy about that.