Gotion balks at answering questions from township leaders
Gotion tells Big Rapids Township that development on that municipality is on hold
Battery company Gotion notified the Big Rapids Township board early this year that it plans to work only with neighboring Green Township on the early stages of its battery plant development.
“The initial phase of the Project includes development of the adjoining property in Green Township,” Gotion attorney Jared T. Belka wrote Feb. 22. “We will reconnect with you as the site is finalized to discuss [Big Rapids] Township’s questions.”
The notice came after a lawyer for Big Rapids board members sent a letter to the China-based company asking for answers about environmental and logistical concerns.
Big Rapids Township and Green Township were asked by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Gotion to create a renaissance zone, with property spanning both townships, according to Carman Bean, a Big Rapids Township board member.
Bean emphasized to Michigan Capitol Confidential that he was speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of the board.
The zoning change was approved in a joint township meeting. But Big Rapids board members became concerned, Bean said, when they were informed of the company’s connection to the Chinese Communist Party.
Mark Nettleton, the board’s attorney, raised concerns about the project in a five-page letter sent Feb 10. Among the board’s questions:
- Describe Gotion’s waste management strategy with respect to the proposed project. Will there be special wastes associated with battery manufacturing. How will those special wastes be managed?
- Provide an explanation of any equipment that will be installed or processes utilized by Gotion to reduce or eliminate air pollution from the project (and identify those contaminants of concern), so that the operation will be in compliance with applicable federal and state law.
- Provide an explanation of any equipment that will be installed or processes utilized by Gotion to reduce or eliminate ground or surface water pollution from the project (and identify those contaminants of concern), so that the operation will be in compliance with applicable federal and state law.
- Provide an explanation and data as to how Gotion’s water usage will not adversely impact surrounding private water wells and aquifer.
Twelve days later the board received a response from Belka, whose law firm, Warner Norcross + Judd LLP, represents Gotion.
“The initial phase of the Project includes development of the adjoining property in Green Township,” Belka wrote. “Therefore, Gotion’s efforts have been primarily focused on the core area of development and not on the Township property where development has currently been placed on hold.”
Belka deferred all questions, saying, “The project hasn’t been fully engineered at this point,” and adding that “many of the questions were previously answered and are available on the Township’s website.”
Bean told CapCon this was the first time Gotion notified the township it does not plan to pursue development on land in Big Rapids, at least for now. Bean suspects the timing: The notification came only after Big Rapids began asking questions and requesting detailed information.
Belka did not respond to a CapCon request for comment.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.