New trial date set for bitcoin zoning lawsuit in Washington County – Johnson City Press (subscription)

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Updated: April 26, 2022 @ 7:25 am
Press Senior Reporter
Washington County commissioners were told Monday that a jury trial has been set in July for a zoning lawsuit involving an ongoing bitcoin mining operation in the Limestone community.
Washington County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson informed commissioners that legal counsel for BrightRidge and Red Dog Technologies LLC have decided to forego an appeal of an earlier court ruling in favor of the county and proceed with a jury trial. Chancellor John Rambo has set that trial for July 11-13.
Wilkinson said a pretrial hearing is set for May 11.
In a judgment Rambo issued on March 14, the chancellor ruled that a bitcoin operation on property owned by BrightRidge in the Limestone area does not conform with the proper use allowed under Washington County’s zoning regulations.
The chancellor ruled that Red Dog’s “blockchain verification data” operation at 144 Bailey Road does not meet the definition of a public utility as outlined in the county’s zoning rules.
Since that March ruling, Wilkinson said Red Dog has added “an additional layer of counsel” and is prepared to raise new legal arguments based on the “county’s conduct” in the zoning matter.
“It does not change the legal ruling,” Wilkinson told commissioners at their monthly meeting on Monday. “The county will still argue the position that Red Dog is operating a bitcoin mine without a permit on property that is not zoned for it.”
As such, Wilkinson said the continuation of the operation represents an “unjust enrichment” for both Red Dog and BrightRidge.
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In other business Monday, Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said an ad hoc committee comprised of commissioners and members of the county’s Board of Education will be formed to address the updated needs of the athletic fields at the Boones Creek pre-K-8 school.
“This will provide us with the the opportunity to figure out exactly what we are looking for,” the mayor said.
Earlier in the meeting, commissioners had agreed to pull an item from the night’s agenda that would have authorized work to begin on the turf for the ballfields at the school, which was opened in July 2019.
Construction of the athletic complex at the school has been an ongoing issue for county officials. Last year, commissioners approved a resolution to authorize spending $2.1 million that was previously allocated in the capital projects fund to complete work on the final phase of a sports complex at Boones Creek School.
Before that, commissioners approved $875,000 in 2019 for the first phase of what was projected to be a $3.2 million project.
Phase II was intended to include “construction of new playing fields, buildings, structures and site improvements for new athletic fields and facilities.”
To stay under budget for the project, the most recent plan called for the county to proceed internally with building the playing fields without such items as scoreboards, concession stands and restrooms.
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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