Residents of Green Township, Mi. are rightly upset about Gotion, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) affiliated battery plant advancing plans to start construction in their community this Summer. In addition to the Michigan tax-payers footing the bill, Gotion is receiving full cooperation from the local Green Township board.
A group of local volunteers recently went door-to-door to inform the community, who have been largely kept in the dark regarding the plans. They reported that most of the locals are firmly opposed to the battery plant being built in their town. Many were informed for the first time by the volunteers.
While it has been rumored that one of the Green Twp board trustees would be profiting from the sale of land to Gotion, a recent property record reveals that the land in question is an integral piece of property to the Gotion High-Tech battery plant project. The Midwesterner News reported that they were able to confirm which land was included in the deal when a local news story interviewed Green Twp. Supervisor Jim Chapman and showed a detailed map of the property Gotion is planning to purchase. Within the boundary lines for the proposed Gotion property is township board trustee Dale Jernstadt’s land, which comprises just under 20% of the overall land purchase.
“Mecosta County property records show Dale Jernstadt has a 72-acre parcel at the corner of 18 Mile Road and 220th Avenue in Green Charter Township. According to the county Register of Deeds, he obtained a mortgage on the property in 2012 for $180,000.”
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During a special joint meeting on September 26, 2022, the Big Rapids township board and the Green Charter township board voted to form a renaissance zone that would provide tax incentives for the battery plant. The Pioneer, a Big Rapids news outlet, reported on the 27th of September that the boards voted unanimously to support establishing a renaissance zone.
“The Big Rapids Township and Green Township boards of trustees voted unanimously to approve the establishment of a renaissance zone at the Big Rapids Airport Industrial Park, as well as property within Green Township, during a joint meeting Monday night.”
The September meeting minutes show that fellow Green Township Trustee James Peek made a motion that was seconded by Township Treasurer Denise Macfarlane that Dale Jernstadt should abstain from the vote due to a conflict of interest in ownership of property in the area proposed in the Renaissance Zone.
Yet strangely, even though Jernstadt knew he should abstain from voting on the Gotion battery plant proposal because he would personally profit from selling his land, he chose to vote in the township’s December meeting.
Resolution 01-122022 was proposed to the board as a Resolution To Support Gotion Inc. And Their Bringing Their Industrial Project To Green Charter Township. Jernstadt voted affirmatively along with six of his fellow board members, as seen on the meeting minutes from Dec 13, 2022 document below.
The Midwesterner learned that property owners were selling their land to Gotion for an inflated price,
“Sources tell The Midwesterner properties intended for the project are being put under contract for significantly more than they are worth. One owner who has over 175 acres is allegedly being paid $15 million. Another with 72 acres is allegedly being paid $20 million.”
According to local realty broker Rhonda Lange, these prices per acre are incredibly bloated. She cited a 50.7-acre parcel near the site with a cabin on it listed for $249k and a 57.9-acre parcel with 800′ of Muskegon River frontage selling for $425k. Lange also cited a recent sale of 149.63 acres roughly 3.5 miles from the Gotion site that sold for $665k.
Local residents would like clarification on whether or not Jernstadt was profiting from insider knowledge of the project and if he has personally signed a non-disclosure agreement with Gotion or the state. However, there are vast concerns over the restrictive non-disclosure agreements that are in place and currently provide secrecy around the project.
Former Ambassadors Pete Hoekstra and Joseph Cella have asked the DOJ to conduct an investigation of Gotion Inc. and Michigan officials who they believe may be violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Both Hoekstra and Cella pointed out that there has been a lack of transparency from the outset,
“From the outset of this project, due diligence, strict scrutiny and transparency have been woefully lacking,” they wrote. Many legitimate questions from elected officials and citizens alike remain, particularly involving the national security threat presented by this company based in The People’s Republic of China (PRC) which maintains ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Unfortunately, to advance the proposed project, officials in the State of Michigan who are directly engaged with Gotion, Inc. are shielding themselves from these questions through the binding and punitive 5 year non-disclosure agreements, justifying the secrecy on account of ‘competition’ saying they are “commonplace” with such economic developments.” They continued,
“The speed and secrecy which officials in the State of Michigan have operated with State and local leaders imperils our national security and must be given the strictest of scrutiny through both a CFIUS Review and an investigation to ascertain if FARA has been violated.”