SIERRA VISTA — A bitcoin mining operation near Douglas received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission during Wednesday’s regular meeting.
Commissioners Kim DePew, Nathan Watkins, Gerry Gonzalez, Jim Martzke, Gary Brauchla and Nancy Welch approved the request for a Special Use Authorization to Norma Brandenburg to construct a phased warehouse and solar project for a bitcoin mining operation on 4.15 acres at 2585 W. Oak Ave. near Douglas.
Wayne Gregan was the only commissioner to vote no.
Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new bitcoins by solving a computational puzzle.
The project will be completed in three phases, explained Robert Kirschmann, Planner II. The first phase will include building two 400-square-foot sheds and installing seven solar arrays with 20 solar panels. Phase 2, to be done in 2022, will include three 400-square-foot sheds and 28 solar arrays with 560 solar panels. Phase 3, planned in 2023 to 2024, will include a 12,000-square-foot building, a parking lot and an additional 2,380 solar panels.
The solar arrays will provide power to the operation and will not be sold commercially, according to Brandenburg.
The business will support nine to 10 employees, though they will work remotely.
There were four neighboring property owners who objected to the authorization with concerns of additional traffic on the road, noise, lighting and not wanting to have a commercial business in the area.
The commissioners also approved a rezoning request be sent to the Board of Supervisors for the re-establishment of a small subdivision on 75 acres in the former Bella Vista Ranchettes project as requested by Eric Spencer, who was representing the investors.
Kirschmann said the request was to rezone the acreage from RU–4 (one dwelling per four acres) to RU–2 (one dwelling per two acres).
“The 75 acres was originally platted and approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1988 for 20 residential lots, two well sites and a loop road,” Kirschmann said. “Per the Assurance Agreement the applicant was to extend the agreement or construct the improvements within three years. Neither was completed. The plat has not yet been abandoned and is owned by multiple people. This rezoning could allow for up to a maximum of 37 lots.”
Spencer was unsure how water for the subdivision would be provided. He spoke with representatives of Mescal Lakes Water and was told the developers would have to pay for the infrastructure to supply water to the homes. Since the property has two well sites, those could be used for a water supply, or on the two-acre lots buyers could drill their own wells.
Water use was a concern of Roger Lee who stated in a letter of opposition, “This increase in home density to make a dollar is a very poor idea and can have catastrophic affects to the surrounding area. Someone needs to take a stand against overpopulating areas to protect the area resources. Water becomes more scarce every year and water tables keep dropping.”
Spencer has yet to get a certificate of water adequacy from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Welch was the sole nay vote.
The next meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission will be at 4 p.m. on April 14.