The Vilonia City Council approved a conditional-use permit to allow for a new crypto mining site in the city during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The crypto mining site will be located in the industrial mining district off Energy Lane and will have 15 units.
A crypto mining site is a group of computers that use electricity in order to “mine” virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.
The conditional-use permit for the site was already approved by the Vilonia Planning Commission at the March meeting, and the site was unanimously approved once more by the city council on Tuesday.
Mayor Preston Scroggin said that the applicant for the crypto site was “flawless” in the application process and that the site has gone through multiple engineering reviews.
While Scroggin said that the planning commission did not bring up any concerns over the site to him, some Vilonia residents have taken to social media to voice their own.
The main concern from Vilonia residents was the issue with the noise that the site would create. There have been many complaints from residents across the country that live near these sites over the noise pollution similar “mines” create.
Alderman Mike Matos addressed these concerns on Monday when he went to an already constructed crypto mining site in Morrilton. Matos went to a cemetery that was across from the site and said in a video on Facebook that he did not hear any noise other than a “very, very faint hum” when it is very quiet.
The site has also agreed that it will put up a “sound barrier wall” to further address the sound issues with Vilonia residents.
Vilonia residents on social media also had concerns over the environmental impacts of crypto mining sites, such as increasing air and water pollution, but those concerns were not addressed at the city council meeting on Tuesday other than an agreement with the site to keep the vegetation in the area and put in more vegetation.
The approval of this site comes on the heels of the Arkansas Data Centers Act of 2023, which was signed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week.
This act, originally House Bill 1799, allows for digital asset mining businesses, or crypto mining sites, to operate in the state under certain regulations and prevents local governments, such as city councils, from “discriminating” against these businesses.
The Arkansas Data Centers Act of 2023 allows for digital asset mining businesses to operate in the state if these businesses follow state law concerning business guidelines and tax policies, ordinances relating to operations and safety and state and federal employment laws.
Individual cryptocurrency miners, under the law, must pay applicable taxes and fees and operate in a manner that would cause no stress on local power grids.
The act also states that these crypto mining sites “create jobs, pay taxes and provide general economic value to local communities and this state.”