WOLFE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Wolfe County is known for its hiking trails and rugged beauty – but some who live there complain that a new facility is drowning out the peace.
Brenda Campbell has lived in her home off of Ky.-1036 for 43 years, nestled in the hills and surrounded by trees.
But now she says an unannounced new neighbor has disturbed her peace. The Kentucky Lantern first reported the dilemma.
Campbell said the facility, owned by Houston-based Artemis Power Tech, began operation in August.
Since then, the persistent drone of the facility’s fans has filled the area day and night. The fans are in place to keep the high-powered computer equipment in the small metal buildings cool.
“At first when you come out and you hear it, you think well, it’s not that bad,” Campbell said. “But then all day, 24 hours, no matter where you go or what you do it’s there.”
The facility is just up the hill from Campbell’s home. She said beyond the noise, she’s noticed fewer birds around her home since the operation began.
“It’s always been serene,” Campbell said of the area. “Lots of animals around. But this has really interfered with our peace.”
Campbell and the county’s judge executive said there was no notice before the company set up shop. No ordinances in the county would have required the company to ask the county before moving in.
“We should have a voice,” Campbell said. “I mean this should have been discussed – maybe a fiscal court meeting – but it should have been discussed somewhere.”
Judge Executive Raymond Banks said that he understands neighbors’ frustrations with the noise and that there was no notice that the company was moving in.
“They’ve set up shop without asking anybody to start with,” Banks said. “But they are trying to address the problem. I feel really good about them solving the problem.”
Banks said he’s spoken with a representative of the company who said that a barrier wall would be put in to address the noise problem.
Some have called for a noise ordinance in the county to address the problem. Still, Banks believes such an ordinance could have unintended impacts on existing or future businesses in the county.
“A county ordinance goes a long way,” Banks said. “You know, we’ve been without a round track for several years now, and we finally got our round track up and going. And if I put in a noise restriction then this guy’s going to have to close his round track down. And that brings people into our county, money into our county.”
He went on to say that Wolfe County is one of the poorest counties in the state.
“Anything we get here is better than nothing,” Banks said. “Cause we don’t have much.”
Banks acknowledges that the crypto mining facility likely won’t bring in many jobs and said the amount of tax money it could bring in needs to be clarified. He said the matter is set to be discussed at next month’s fiscal court meeting.
“Is it worth it? Probably not,” Banks said of the facility. “But it’s already here and you can’t just say you’ve got to leave, I don’t think that’s the answer.”
Campbell’s home has a hill that blocks some of the noise from the facility, but for some in the area, nothing stands between the noise and their homes but trees.
“Back during the summer when all the leaves were on the trees you couldn’t hear it as bad now when leaves are falling off,” said 15-year-old Carson Gabbard. “The leaves blocked some of it out.”
Gabbard said that the drone of the fans can’t be heard inside his family’s home.
“Now when we try to do anything outside, we can be over in our building or anything, and all we hear is that big loud noise,” Gabbard said.
For Campbell, the fact that there are few regulations on the relatively new industry of crypto mining is a concern.
“I would love an environmental study on this noise,” Campbell said. “On humans and on animals. I think it’s greatly needed.”
For now, Campbell hopes that the fast-growing industry doesn’t continue to swoop into rural communities and drown out their natural beauty.
“Why put this in a rural residential area?” Campbell said. “I mean if you have to, if you have to have this then put it in an industrial park. Put it on an old strip job. Don’t put it in a neighborhood.”
LEX 18 reached out to Artemis Power Tech for comment and left contact information with an employee of the facility but has yet to hear back before publication.