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Stay on the pulse of the decisions being made at meetings for Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commission, with reports from BPR’s Laura Hackett.

Last night at Commission: Buncombe extends moratorium on cryptocurrency mining

Cryptocurrency mining has come to Georgia. U.S.-based company Bitfury has been accounting for much of the buzz.
Andrew North for NPR
Andrew North for NPR
Bitfury, a cryptocurrency mining operation, stationed in Georgia.

Buncombe’s planning and zoning department is still wrapping its head around cryptocurrency mining.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Nathan Pennington, the county’s planning director, asked the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners for an extension on a temporary ban, or moratorium, on cryptocurrency mining.

The planning department is still figuring out a “reasonable set of regulations surrounding this industry,” Pennington said.

“Congress is still wrestling over how exactly to regulate the industry itself. There's a patchwork quilt of regulations across all 50 states,” he said.

Across the country, including in nearby Murphy, the mines have developed a reputation for being loud, disruptive and energy-intensive.

The sound – which comes from massive, whirring computer servers and the fans necessary to keep them from overheating – “can make it seem like you're next to a busy freeway,” reports WUNC.

While called "mining," there is no physical trenching, digging or manufacturing involved. A cryptomining operation is effectively acting as both a secure digital ledger and commission-based business.

Not all cryptocurrency requires mining – but many currencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, are generated through computer servers that crunch complex algorithms around the clock.

Buncombe County first passed a moratorium on the mines in May 2023. Commissioners unanimously approved the extension, meaning the new moratorium will last through May 2025.

Barnardsville is getting a new bridge

An antidote to some of Barnardsville’s flooding problems may come in the form of a new bridge.

The county has garnered more than $6.5 million in state funding to rebuild the existing Paint Fork Bridge, located near the intersection of N.C. Hwy. 197 and Paint Fork Road.

The area has experienced severe flooding from Dillingham Creek, especially during the 2021 Tropical Storm Fred. The funding will also support stream restoration and help acquire the necessary right-of-way property for construction to start.

Commissioners approved several resolutions to accept funding from the state. Once the right-of-way land is acquired, the project is expected to take around two years to complete.

A photo of the Waste Pro truck in front of The Biltmore House, used in Waste Pro's presentation on November 21.
Screen grab from Buncombe County
A photo of the Waste Pro truck in front of The Biltmore House, used in Waste Pro's presentation on November 21.

County moves forward with FCC Environmental Services

Buncombe approved, on a first reading, a seven-year agreement with a new solid waste management provider, FCC Environmental Services.

If approved in a second vote scheduled for later this month, FCC will take over from the current provider, Waste Pro, on Jan. 1, 2025. Waste Pro was denied a contract extension last November after it proposed a rate increase.

Currently, the county pays $25.16 a month per household to Waste Pro. The company had pitched an increase of up to $32 by 2026. As proposed, the new FCC rate will be $28.65 a month. In the FCC contract under consideration, the price is locked in for two years, with no more than a 5% hike over the original contract term.

Other tidbits

  • Sarah Gross has been tapped as the commission’s new clerk. Gross currently serves as the City of Asheville’s deputy clerk. Her first day is May 28. 
  • Buncombe commissioners heard a third-quarter financial report from County’s Finance Director Melissa Moore. According to the report, year-end revenues are projected to be $414.1 million, or 100.4% of budget. Learn more about what that means with BPR’s Buncombe Budget Primer

Every first and third Tuesday, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meets at 200 College St., Room 326, in downtown Asheville beginning at 5 p.m. See the full recording and agenda of the May 7 meeting.

Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.
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