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One hundred-day hold on crypto mining: Branson prioritizes community impact

On June 4, 2024, the Branson Board of Aldermen held a Special Meeting to consider imposing a 100-day administrative delay of applications and permits pertaining to the development of data centers and cryptocurrency mining centers in the city of Branson. In her staff report, Amanda Ross, Acting Planning and Development Director for the city, said, “While necessary for progress and globalization, [Data Center/Cryptocurrency Mining] have become a worldwide concern due to infrastructure requirements, energy consumption, noise pollution and personal health resulting in increased litigation. Current code [The Branson Municipal Code] does not adequately address appropriate protections and buffers.” She then requested a resolution declaring a need to address developments proposing Data Centers and Cryptocurrency Mining Centers in the City of Branson and “thus a One Hundred (100) Day Administrative Delay of Applications and Permits Pertaining to the Development of Data Centers and Cryptocurrency Mining Centers Located in the City of Branson, Missouri.”


According to her report, it was possible to construct such centers in various locations, ranging from easily movable storage and Conex containers to old office buildings and defunct retail spaces. The report went into specific concerns relating to the operation of such centers, such as noise pollution and the need to address sound and land buffers, concerns about lithium batteries, the volatility of cryptocurrency mining, infrastructure requirements (water, electric), impact on future development, and that they are a “burgeoning industry rife with conflict in municipalities.” Among other things, Ross explained the moratorium would allow time to “Create more comprehensive use and structure standards, review definitions, address sound levels in code [and] review appropriate zoning district.”


During the discussion, the Board seemed confused at times as to the announced purpose of the meeting as it shifted from discussing the moratorium to treating it more like a hearing for CJW Transportation’s application to establish a cryptocurrency mining and data center in the Branson Commerce Park Planned Development. During the public comment portion of the meeting, the applicant’s representatives provided specific information about their application. They said implementing the moratorium could cause Branson losing the project. Commercial realtors, a representative from White River Electric, and others presented specific information relating to the specifics of the application, the development of Branson Commerce Park Planned Development, or the operation of such centers, but very little as to the topic of the moratorium itself. On more than one occasion, Ward 2 Alderman, Thomas’ Artie’ Lucas pointed out that this was discussion on a moratorium, not a “Hearing.”


City Administrator Cathy Stepp said, “In the event that you do decide to pass this [the 100-day moratorium] our staff is fully committed to turn something around even faster than what the guide was that we gave you. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of plates spinning in that department right now, lot of projects going on around the city, but this is an important effort to make sure that our codes are sufficient… and that we don’t want to be locking out certain type of industries necessarily but we want to balance it with common sense and making sure we are mindful of current residents. So, you have our commitment from the administration side to do whatever we can to move things quickly but still without sacrificing quality.”


The moratorium passed by a four (4) to two (2) vote, with alderpersons Marshall Howden and Clay Cooper voting “No” and alderpersons Glenn Schulz, Thomas’ Artie’ Lucas, Ralph LeBlanc, Ruth Denham voting “Yes.”

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