Crypto ban extended in Massena

Town of Massena officials are extending a moratorium on new cryptocurrency operations to give them more time to finalize a proposed regulation, and they’ve set a public hearing for Nov. 17. Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Town of Massena officials are extending a moratorium on new cryptocurrency operations to give them more time to finalize a proposed regulation, and they’ve set a public hearing for Nov. 17.

The Town Council had placed a 90-day moratorium on future cryptocurrency mining operations in the town in August. The moratorium was set to expire on Nov. 30, unless it was extended.

Town Attorney Eric J. Gustafson said zoning regulations are still being drawn up.

“We just need a little more time to finalize the proposed regulation,” he said. “There’s cryptocurrency zoning regulations at the local level. There’s not a lot of them out there.”

He said he wanted to ensure that, before providing a draft to the board, he did “an adequate job of making sure that facilities coming in are doing so in a way that adds to the town.”

“So, I think in the interim, having the moratorium protects us so that we don’t end up with facilities that are being thrown up in a way that’s less than desirable,” Mr. Gustafson said. “Get the right regulations done and we won’t have to worry about it going forward.”

He said he was aware of concerns about currently pending cryptocurrency mining operations and their ability to continue going forward.

“So, we made the moratorium extension explicit even though I think that’s probably overkill given that the local zoning law would authorize a grandfathering in of currently existing facilities,” he said.

Mr. Gustafson’s recommendation, with which the board agreed, was to extend the moratorium until Feb. 28.

“(That will) get us through the holiday season, give everybody a chance to get acclimated, get input from the board,” he said. “And, again, part of it’s a question of coming up with some regulations that are appropriate. There’s not a lot of other examples out there. It’s kind of charting new territory.”

He said among the examples were regulations that had been drafted in Plattsburgh and Lake Placid.

“Lake Placid had some draft ones, but they really didn’t address things like what are the facilities to look like, do we really want structures, or is a lot full of shipping containers appropriate for the town of Massena?” he said. “I think those are the types of things that we need to struggle with a little bit more and get some input from the board.”

Deputy Town Supervisor Samuel D. Carbone Jr. wondered if the town should consider having a separate law governing shipping containers. He said some sea boxes were welded together at homes and garages, “and some of them actually do look pretty nice.”

“So, I don’t know if maybe there’s an allowance for that,” Mr. Carbone said, “but, I think that something needs to be done, in general, to keep the town in good order and not having them scattered all over.”

“It’s an interesting point. I’d never really considered it that way,” Mr. Gustafson said. “I think that’s probably something that would more appropriately be done under separate legislation, but it’s certainly something we can look at as the board directs.”

Sea boxes and trailers were among the concerns when the board placed its first moratorium on any future cryptocurrency mining operations.

“What we want to put in place is regulations, zoning laws that prohibit the cryptocurrency from just plunking trailers down, like a shipping container,” Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said during the August public hearing.

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