The Washington County Commission voted Monday to ask a bitcoin mining company operating in the Limestone community to bring its business within compliance of the proper zoning use for the site or face possible litigation.
Commissioners directed the county attorney and the county planning director to inform Red Dog Technologies that its cyber-mining operation does not conform with the zoning they approved at the request of BrightRidge for the property last year.
“Let’s get down to the root issue,” Commissioner Bryan Davenport told his colleagues in making the motion to take the action. “Our attorney should send them a letter. Shut it down. It’s out of compliance.”
The commission began addressing the bitcoin mining operation in July after hearing from a number of residents in the Limestone community who said noise coming from the computers and cooling fans used in its cyber-mining has been non-stop since Red Dog began its operations earlier this year.
Washington County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson told commissioners that because the bitcoin mining operation is not being operated as a public utility, it is not in compliance with the zoning they approved for the site. As such, she said the county and adjacent property owners could seek a court injunction as a legal remedy.
Earlier in the meeting, Todd Napier as representative of Red Dog, said the company has spent $500,000 on efforts to reduce the noise at the property. That includes installing noise dampening louvers near its equipment and beginning construction of a 15-foot wall around the facility.
As a result, Napier said decibel readings have dropped by nearly 50% at the bitcoin mining site.
“I have talked to residents who live nearby, and they don’t think the problems have been resolved,” Commissioner Ken Huffine said.
In other business Monday:
• Commissioners approved revisions to the lease-to-own agreement the county signed with the town of Jonesborough in 2019 to build a new $32.75 million K-8 county school. Earlier this month, town leaders informed Washington County officials and members of the county Board of Education the project will now cost $10 million more than originally estimated.
Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said construction costs and a shortage of building materials have driven up the project’s price tag to $42,750,000. As part of the amended agreement, the county will commit another $464,050 yearly to cover the added $10 million over the next 30 years.
• Commissioners accepted the resignation of Sheriff Ed Graybeal and begin the process for naming an interim sheriff to serve serve the remainder of Graybeal’s term until the voters go to the polls on Aug. 4, 2022, to elect a new sheriff.
Candidates vying to be interim sheriff will have their credentials to hold the job vetted by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. The board is expected to fill the position in November.
• Commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the town of Jonesborough to create a seven-person work crew, which officials said would help to both speed up construction and reduce costs of county waterline projects in the town’s service area.
The $425,000 needed to pay salaries and equip the crew will come from funds the county has received from the American Rescue Plan Act. The waterline crew will be supervised by Jonesborough officials.
• Commissioners voted to spend $4.5 million in capital education funds for upgrades to the football stadiums at Daniel Boone and David Crockett high schools. The project calls for the home-side bleachers to be replaced and synthetic turf to be installed at the county’s two high schools.