Could a cryptocurrency mining operation be built in Buncombe County? That question is scheduled for discussion during a Board of Commissioners briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m.
The county has not received any applications for such a development, according to a staff presentation provided ahead of the briefing. But commissioners are expected to weigh in on whether county zoning should be updated in anticipation of future development requests.
Current county zoning does not specifically define cryptocurrency mining or outline areas where it would be allowed. A proposed “mine” — a large warehouse full of computer servers that process crypto transactions — would thus likely be allowed anywhere the county currently permits warehouses or storage facilities.
The question to be posed at Tuesday’s briefing is whether Buncombe should create a temporary moratorium on cryptocurrency mining development to allow time for the county to define and create specific zoning restrictions. Before adopting such a moratorium, the board would have to hold a public hearing and a formal vote; no timeline for that process has been proposed.
Alternatively, county commissioners could decide to leave zoning regulations as they are. The presentation notes that crypto mines typically opt for areas with flat, plentiful inexpensive land — places unlike Buncombe County. As previously reported by the Citizen-Times, Cherokee County has become home to several mines in recent years, drawing community concerns over noise and energy use.
In other news
At the commissioners’ regular meeting later that day, county staff will present a second-quarter financial update for fiscal year 2022-23. Midway through the fiscal year, the county is expected to show revenues and expenses at about 50% of the annual budget, and Buncombe’s general fund appears to be on track.
Revenues for Buncombe’s solid waste fund, which depend on usage of the county landfill and transfer station, are down from last year and currently sit at 34.8% of the annual budget. While expenditures are up due to capital projects and debt service for a landfill expansion, they also remain below half of the annual budget at 31.1%. An accompanying staff report states that “there are no areas of concern” regarding the current rate of spending.
Commissioners will also vote a budget amendment to accept a $1.1 million MacArthur Foundation grant for the county’s Justice Services department. The grant will provide two years of funding for two positions that focus on decreasing racial disparities in the jail population.
Consent agenda and public comment
The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains five items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion.
In addition to the routine approval of minutes, the agenda includes a roughly $1.27 million contract with Eagle Solar and Light to install solar panels on four Buncombe County Schools facilities and one county-owned building. The work represents the latest phase of the county’s previously approved plan to install solar on local government buildings. If approved, work would begin this summer.
The board will also hold a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. the same day to interview candidates for the General Obligation Bond Community Oversight Committee and Land of Sky Regional Council.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted.