JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — They don’t know exactly where Red Dog Technologies’ relocated Bitcoin mine might go, but people who live near the Washington County Industrial Park (WCIP) know they don’t want it near them.

Led by retired missionary Randy Gilliam, a sizable contingent of Telford residents protested outside the George Jaynes Justice Center before entering to express their opposition to the cryptocurrency mine’s relocation to their neighborhood.

The group, which also met Sunday night, had expected — just like Washington County Commissioners did until just recently — that the commission would have a final settlement agreement to consider that would end its lawsuit against Red Dog and BrightRidge. The agreement included a clause to close the current mine in the New Salem community of Limestone and move it to five acres at WCIP, which is very close to Grandview Elementary School as well as a residential neighborhood.

People protest the potential relocation of a Bitcoin mine to the Washington County Industrial Park prior to the July 25 meeting of the Washington County, Tenn. commission. (WJHL photo)

“Bitcoin operation does not need to be moved to another location,” Gilliam said Monday. “It needs to be moved out of our area.”

The exact parcel has not been finalized for where Red Dog would open a new — and it says quieter — mine. County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson told commissioners that was one of the top reasons they’ll have to wait until at least their August meeting to vote up or down a settlement proposal. The county has sued BrightRidge, which leases property and sells electricity to Red Dog, and Red Dog claiming the operation violates the county’s zoning law.

It also makes a lot of noise, which is what got New Salem residents up in arms about the operation starting in May 2021. The noise is produced by industrial fans, which cool the high-powered computer processors that “mine” for Bitcoin and also verify Bitcoin transactions.

Wilkinson told commissioners — who allowed Gilliam to address them even though the settlement was not on Monday’s agenda — Red Dog would also need to request a “text amendment” to the county’s M2 (industrial) zoning regulation in order to allow for cryptocurrency mining.

The various outstanding items she needs from the defendants will have to be to her by Aug. 3 for the commission to vote on a proposal at its Aug. 22 meeting.

But the protesting citizens seemed to have their minds set Monday on continuing to oppose a Bitcoin mine anywhere near them, no matter when such a proposal might reach the commission.

“I’m really concerned about the children at Grandview, listening to the noise from that all day long and trying to learn, and there again, the wildlife that’s there,” said Michelle Lamberides, who lives near the industrial park.

Wilkinson said a specific site has been selected in the WCIP and that she and her co-counsel Jeff Ward have sent Red Dog and BrightRidge all the information they needed.

“That offer was made,” of a specific piece of property, Wilkinson said.

“The county also sent a proposed settlement agreement and a proposed or at least draft text amendment language (to the M2 zoning) so that could all be discussed at one point,” she said. “Kind of a kit.”

That kit also included news that a surveyor would create a legal description of the new subdivided property proposed for the settlement. But last Friday her office received some questions from the counsel for Red Dog about helping Red Dog with “operational people” to help them with the project location.

She said the county doesn’t have such staff and that because the lawsuit is still active, “it’s the county’s position that all the negotiations will continue to go through counsel. I can’t tell you how important that is. This is still a matter filed in court.”

At least one commissioner suggested Monday he believed the court case should go through and that a settlement is the wrong move. Danny Edens, who wasn’t at the June 9 meeting when commissioners approved a draft settlement by an 8-2 vote, said commissioners won’t always please everyone when they try to represent their districts.

“But we do know right from wrong,” Edens said. “And where this is, right and wrong is crystal clear where Bitcoin’s concerned. The only people that benefit are … Bitcoin itself and BrightRidge.

“They elect you,” he said, pointing at the people still sitting in the commission chambers. “Do what’s right by them. That’s your county. It’s not the 15 people who sit around this table, it’s those people that sit out there, those people that sit at home and watch us online, those people who go and vote. That’s who we’re accountable to, and I daresay if you polled them in any one of your districts how they wanted you to vote for Bitcoin, they would tell you to vote no.

“That’s it. I don’t know why we’ve shuffled this back and forth as long as we have.”