Residents living near cryptocurrency business complain about noise

Fans to cool computers at issue for those who live nearby

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON — Two residents complained in July to Hamilton’s planning commission about loud noise that comes from a cryptocurrency company operating on city-owned property near the intersection of Stahlheber Road and Carlisle Avenue.

At that July 15 meeting, they were assured new zoning regulations would prevent that company from returning without first going through a zoning process, and all people who own property within 500 feet would be informed about it.

The company is back, but Robert Jordan, who lives nearby on Stahlheber Road, said he never received advance notice that would happen, or the chance to argue against it.

The city in September signed a new lease agreement with the company, allowing it to return to the city-owned property, which has an electric substation on it.

So far, since their return in recent weeks, the three trailers operated by WT Data Mining and Science Corp., also known as Wise & Trust Data Centers and Infrastructure, haven’t been as loud as they were before, but Jordan fears that’s because the air-conditioning fans don’t have to operate as much during the colder weather to cool the company’s computers.

The company did not respond to a Journal-News request for comment.

On Thursday, the sounds reaching Jordan’s property from three Wise & Trust trailers were not significant.

“It’s not bad right now, it really isn’t,” Jordan said in an interview. “Because those fans are not running. They’re running, but they’re barely moving — just enough to move the air to cool them things. That’s it.”

But when the weather is hot, “I couldn’t sit on my back deck and have a conversation with someone,” he said. “It was roaring so loud that you just couldn’t really have a good conversation. It was always, ‘What’d you say? What’d you say?’”

“It’s a sound that never stops. It’s 24/7,” he said.

After hearing Jordan’s complaint Wednesday, City Council asked city administrators for a report by Dec. 15 on why Jordan wasn’t notified before the City on Sept. 29 signed a new lease and the company returned.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Candy Marcum of Hyde Park Drive, Jordan’s sister, at the July meeting agreed with his description of the noise levels. She told the planning commission she planned a birthday party for an 82-year-old person, “and I had to cancel the party last summer because we could not have the party in the back of his property. And I just want you guys to know that.”

The matter was before the planning commission because after Hamilton annexed the property from Hanover Township more than a decade ago, the city never assigned zoning to the land.

City planners this year recommended “community business” zoning be assigned to the land, but after hearing about the noise, the planning commission decided to zone it Business Planned Development, to give Jordan and other neighbors more assurance of what could happen there.

Better protection and quiet promised

Executive Director of Infrastructure Edwin Porter said he wasn’t the person best able to answer why Jordan wasn’t notified as residents had been promised.

Although Wise & Trust’s operations ceased in the city for a while, Porter said it was given a new lease and allowed to return because the company “approached the city with a request to resume operations at the site.”

“Wise and Trust is a significant commercial user of energy, which helps to stabilize electric rates for the entirety of the customers of the city of Hamilton electric system,” he added.

Porter told the Journal-News Friday that Wise & Trust “has proactively taken measures to reduce the level of noise generated by their operations. Those measures include different, quieter equipment, the addition of sound dampening barriers surrounding the block-chain container, and a noise survey through an independent Acoustical Control company was conducted after the container was installed and placed into operation.”

City planner Ed Wilson at the July meeting told the planning commission that with the new zoning, there would have to be an amended plan development and a notice would go to owners of property within 500 feet of the property, and it would have to go through a city inter-departmental review before it would be approved.

“No, they can’t come back,” city Planning Director Liz Hayden told the commission about the cryptocurrency company. “If you put zoning on it, they’d have to follow zoning.”

As for the noise, “they are protected, because of the way our noise ordinance is written — and I hate to say protected, because they obviously were not,” Hayden said. “If you live in a residential district, noise cannot enter your district at a certain decibel level.”

“The planning department was only aware of it before they closed,” Hayden said in July.

Jordan said he hopes the company’s new equipment will be quieter. On the other hand, the barriers surrounding the company’s three trailers are quite ugly, he said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Jordan said Porter called him Friday to tell him the city’s attorney was preparing a report on the situation.

“I said, ‘Again, I don’t care what anybody has to say. All I want to know is, is it legal, or illegal?’” That was my question, and that’s the way I expect it to be answered,” Jordan said. “But I don’t think they’re going to answer it that way.”

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this report.

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