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Red Dog faces threat of litigation

By SERINA MARSHALL

Staff Writer

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Members of the Washington County Commission raised their own noise in opposition to the Red Dog Bitcoin facility at the latest meeting by calling for it to come to zoning compliance or face potential litigation.

A large crowd gathered at the George P. Jaynes Justice Center for the Sept. 27 meeting to hear updates on the noise coming from the pods at the site.

“We have invested more than $500,000 to date to fix the problem,” Red Dog spokesman Todd Napier said. “We have placed a sound baffling louver to 15 server pods and a 15-foot noise barrier wall has begun to go up around the facility.”

Napier showed a presentation illustrating the work that had been done and the effects of the noise levels now that they were in place. Four sound monitors used to control the level of sound were implemented into sections around the facility.

“Every sample indicated about a 50% reduction in off-site sound from a baseline level,” Napier said. “The unmitigated sounds are down due to the acoustic louver and wall barrier.”

The county wasn’t buying it.

“It has been said that the facility was built in the middle of nowhere, but it wasn’t. It was built in New Salem, which used to be a peaceful community,” Commissioner Kent Harris said. “I wouldn’t want that in front of my house, and I wouldn’t have voted for it if I knew this is how the property would be used.”

Commissioners heard Napier and Chief Executive Officer of BrightRidge Jeff Dykes last month concerning complaints from the neighbors in the Limestone community about the noise they said was polluting their neighborhood.

“The root issue is to solve the problem. Look at what we passed. This is not what I voted ‘yes’ for on the resolution,” Commissioner Bryan Davenport said. “A letter should be sent by our attorney telling them to shut it down. It’s out of compliance.”

Dykes maintained that there was a significant improvement to the noise level and that it was quieter. But this was also called into question.

“I could tell very little difference,” Commissioner Ken Huffine said. “The residents don’t think the problem is solved.” Napier argued that Red Dog solved the issues as requested.

“I can’t believe you can stand there and think you followed through,” Commissioner Suzy Williams responded

The major issue, commissioners said, is that the Red Dog facility does not comply with the zoning that was originally agreed upon for the property.

“This is a violation regardless of noise,” Commissioner Jodi Jones said. “We need to be consistent with the zoning rules.”

A motion was made to have the Director of Planning Angie Charles send a letter telling Red Dog to comply to the zoning of the property quickly or face possible litigation.

“There is no way for them to get into compliance,” Commissioner Phil Carriger said. “We know where this is going.”