ASHEBORO – Bitcoin mining, one of the hottest global phenomena, could be happening in rural North Carolina. A company, loosely named NC Mine 1, LLC and based in California, has applied to rezone an area along Spencer Meadow Road in Randolph County from a residential agricultural district has a light industrial district.
In other words, they want to change their land from a place where people live and grow plants to a place where they can make something – in this case, virtual currency.
Residents of the area had opposed the development of the facility from the start, hiring lawyers and launching a media campaign against it. We at The Courier-Tribune decided to investigate their claims and see how Bitcoin mining is affecting communities. So what does bitcoin mining entail and what has been the fate of NC Mine 1, LLC and Spencer Meadow Road?
First of all, what is bitcoin and why is it “mined”?
Bitcoin was born in a mysterious way. Its creator, who is called Satoshi Nakamoto, remains an enigma for the public. The idea of bitcoin first circulated in the crypto community in 2008 and came to life in 2009 with 30,000 lines of code.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency and every transaction using Bitcoin is kept in a public ledger that anyone can see. Each ledger entry relies on a technology called blockchain, which essentially uses algorithms to put together blocks of Bitcoin transactions in an irreversible order. Think of it as if you were putting together pages from a book. If you change the page, it wouldn’t make sense. This is what is so powerful about blockchain and why it is the foundation of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin mining is how each new bitcoin is generated and how each block is added to the blockchain. It involves computers solving complex mathematical equations and is therefore very resource intensive.
How did the people of Randolph County react?
Residents of Randolph County near the proposed mine site were not happy with the idea of supercomputers that would produce heat and require noisy cooling systems. Some concerns stemmed from reports of people in other regions with Bitcoin mining sites, with accounts that the systems could be overheard five miles away.
The mine site would be located close to 50 homes, the Pinewood County Club, the horse barn and the creek, causing neighbors to worry about the unbearable living conditions affecting the land value of their homes. The neighbors hired a lawyer to find a solution and speak on their behalf.
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Attorney Matthew Altamura, of Garrett, Walker, Aycoth and Altamura LLP, said the company expected to hear about plans for Bitcoin mining farms during a hearing with the Randolph County Planning Board.
Jay Dale, Director of Planning and Zoning, isn’t surprised by lawyers speaking on behalf of a community, as it happens quite often. “Sometimes people hire lawyers to speak at the hearing itself. Ultimately, if the Randolph County Planning Council and Council of Commissioners decide someone does not agree, the next step will be sent to superior court.
How can Bitcoin mining affect communities like Randolph County?
Bitcoin mining also has an environmental impact due to the huge amounts of energy required to generate bitcoins. In addition to powering computers, energy is needed to cool the fans.
The mining operations have had a significant impact on birds and bees in particular, which can have a huge impact on Asheboro Country Club’s agriculture and on the ranching of neighbors.
Across the country, people wore hearing protection to reduce noise and children refused to go out.
Reports have shown that mining farms consume an enormous amount of energy, creating a large electromagnetic field of energy from servers that produce noise. Extractor fans also produce a huge amount of noise and produce other economic effects that could definitely impact the surrounding area.
“We also take a look at how it affects everyday life when we look at some of the personal complaints and antidotes from people who live there about the aftermath, which they describe as jet engine noise coming from the main exhaust systems. used. cool these farms, ”Altamura said.
The neighborhood where the Bitcoin mining site would potentially be built
A zoning battle turns sour as residents clash with a company trying to turn the land into an industrial district.
Michelle Shen, The Courier-Tribune
Altamura wanted to know why the site was requested in the middle of a populated area with houses handed down from generation to generation. It is one family, the two people who propose the site have their families who oppose it, according to Altamura.
“These are all ancestral lands that belong to a great-great-grandfather, and they have been divided over the years,” said Altamura. “These two gentlemen have this little piece of land in the middle and they put it where all of their residents have their homes. So why choose to put it where it will affect house prices and the country club?”
Altamura has also seen the rapid rise and fall of Bitcoin due to crashes, citing examples of Bitcoin fluctuating from pennies to thousands of dollars. “What if it’s the next crash and Bitcoin is worthless again for a while? It’s not profitable to run this business, so what happens, all the world is stuck with a giant horror sitting there for no reason? “
On the other hand, bitcoin mining can generate economic value for residents who no longer use the land for residential or agricultural purposes, thus acting as an economic stimulus. Part of what makes bitcoin mining so extraordinary is its decentralized and democratized nature. Anyone with a little space and a few servers can set up a mining site and help develop and spread this technology.
Building mining centers in rural areas where land is cheap also makes the most economic sense. You wouldn’t see a bitcoin mining hub in New York City, but it certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise in Randolph County, NC, where land is much cheaper and more plentiful.
What finally happened?
On the day of the hearing, Planning and Zoning Director Jay Dale noted that NC Mine, LLC “had just sent a notification that they were withdrawing the application.”
The residents saw this as a victory and went on with their lives quietly. The Courier-Tribune contacted NC Mine, LLC and the owners of the land for comment, but did not receive a response. For now, the land will remain an agricultural residential area. Whether the 11.8-acre plot will ever be used for bitcoin mining is still open.
What’s so fascinating about Bitcoin is its lack of institutional ties. Bitcoin does not have allegiance to any organization or governing body. This is what makes regulating governments so difficult in a world of rapidly developing technology. Will Bitcoin mining spread to rural communities like Randolph County like it has in Iceland and China? It remains a mystery.
Petruce Jean-Charles is a government watch reporter. They are interested in what is going on in the community and are open to advice on people, businesses and issues. Contact Petruce at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @PetruceKetsia on Twitter.
Michelle Shen is an economics and data reporter for The Courier Tribune. Feel free to share tips with her on Twitter (michelle_shen10), Instagram (pretty_photos_by_michelle OR michelle_shen10) or by email (email@example.com).