MISSOULA – For over a year the massive bitcoin mine in Bonner has been the subject of controversy.
After numerous complaints about noise, the Missoula County commissioners held a public hearing to hear comments about a proposed zoning regulation on the Project Spokane data center in Bonner. The regulation would hypothetically halt all expansion of the business in the area while the county conducts a survey and consider what to do to reduce noise.
Thursday the Missoula county commissioners held a public hearing. Community members expressed opinions about the massive server farm.
Many Bonner residents expressed concern over the noise and how it affects sleeping, property values and the health of their children.
However, several CEOs of software and data development companies spoke in favor of Project Spokane, saying it paves the way for new technology in Montana.
Brian Fadie, clean energy program director Montana Environmental Information Center, says that the size of the operation itself threatens the future of Bonner’s power grid. "Regardless of whether the bitcoin company pays for the initial electric infrastructure upgrades," Fadie said, "all customers will be paying for the operation and maintenance costs for that infrastructure going forward."
Several representatives for Project Spokane gave comments as well.
"I think what we have to remember here is that interim zoning is kind of a ready, fire, aim process," said Jaymie Bowditch, Project Spokane LLC attorney. "I mean, what happens in interim zoning is you come in, you stop something and then you look into it."
No decisions were made and the commission said that they appreciated the turnout and would do more research so as to make an informed decision. The next date for public comments was set for August 9.