Brainerd City Council Needs More Time for Decision on Crypto Mining Permit

The Brainerd City Council voted 6-1 in favor of extending a decision to grant VCV Digital Infrastructure an interim use permit (IUP) for outdoor storage as a principal use to operate a cryptocurrency mining facility at 1918 Thiesse Drive in Brainerd. VCV Digital was originally approved for an IUP in October 2022, but that IUP expired because minimum improvements were not started within one year.

The Brainerd City Council will now have 60 days to decide if VCV Digital Infrastructure can begin a crypto mining operation in Brainerd. Given how little is known about crypto mining, the council felt that more time was needed on such a big decision.

“I think there was enough issues brought forth, particularly noise, but not limited to noise, that we just didn’t have enough answers to as to whether it was going to be a nuisance to some of the surrounding residential area, which ironically is outside the City of Brainerd limits,” explained Kelly Bevans, Brainerd City Council President.

The facility is not built yet, and the property is currently just a grassy area. Council Vice President Gabe Johnson, who was the only council member who voted against the extension, questioned how the city could measure the effects of a facility that does not exist yet.

“How can we explore it if it’s not there and it’s not going to be there?” asked Johnson during Monday’s council meeting. “So I think adding an end date to the IUP and a condition about noise, let them install the outdoor containers. Outdoor storage is a primary use and if we find that to be so disruptive that they need to move the storage indoors, we’ll know that in a year and we can make that decision at that time. So I’ll be voting no on the extension.”

VCV Digital has already invested over $600,000 of their own capital to fund this project. The city, being mindful, of that wants to make a decision as quickly as possible regarding the future of this crypto mining operation.

“This is something that’s been going on for years, and actually we’ve already approved this once,” said Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux. “So the time frame here needs to be as quick as possible because they deserve an answer, yes or no. Are we going to allow it or we’re not going to allow it? I would say that in this instance, it’s something that we’ve already have operating down the street. They’ve already been approved previously to do this. New issues with whether or not something is too loud or not too loud have arisen. However, we still got to fall back on whether or not this is a use that fits the criteria, which is where it’s located and what the operation is.”

The proposed location is located in an industrial zone in Brainerd. If a decision is not made by the 60-day deadline, the city would need consent from VCV Digital to extend a ruling on the decision to grant an interim use permit, although Council President Kelly Bevans “guaranteed” during the meeting that a decision will be made at a council meeting within the 60 days.

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