A court hearing on a zoning dispute involving a bitcoin mining operation in the Limestone community has been continued until Dec. 8.

Washington County Chancellor John Rambo ruled Wednesday he will hear a request at that time from the county asking for a temporary injunction against BrightRidge to prevent the continuation of cyber currency mining operations on property the energy authority owns at 1444 Bailey Bridge Road.

Rambo also told attorneys representing both sides that he will allow the company at the center of the zoning dispute, Red Dog Technologies LLC, to become a party in the matter.

“It’s a significant request to shut down a business,” Rambo said, adding he is reluctant to do so without hearing from all parties.

The chancellor said he would also need to determine what a cyber currency mining operation actually represents and if it is “inconsistent” with the use allowed in the A-3 zone.

Angela Charles, Washington County’s planning director, is listed as the plaintiff in a motion from the county alleging the bitcoin mining conducted by the property’s leaseholder, Red Dog, does not conform with a “public utilities” zoning use permitted for the site under the county’s land use regulations.

County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson told Rambo that the plaintiff does not object to Red Dog’s inclusion in the case, but the county argues its primary “relationship is with BrightRidge.” She said it is BrightRidge who has “shepherded” the project in asking for a rezoning of its property for a data center.

Steve Darden, the attorney for BrightRidge, asked the court on Wednesday to dismiss the case, telling the chancellor that Red Dog is an “indispensable party” in the matter and it would not be fair to proceed without its participation. He said the county should have addressed its letters asking that bitcoin mining be ceased at the site to Red Dog, not BrightRidge.

Washington County’s complaint alleges county commissioners first became aware that BrightRidge was in violation of the permitted zoning use for its Limestone property when residents in the neighborhood appeared during the public comment segment of their monthly meeting to voice their concerns about noise coming from the bitcoin operation.

Commissioners voted in September to send a letter to officials at BrightRidge, informing them they have 30 days to discontinue the current use of their property.

Darden also told the court Wednesday that the county’s contention that it wasn’t aware of Red Dog’s involvement at the site until hearing from neighbors “is just plain wrong.”

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Press Senior Reporter

Robert Houk has served as a journalist and photographer at the Press since 1987. He is a recipient of the Associated Press Managing Editors Malcom Law Award for investigative reporting.

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