BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – China-linked Gotion Inc. took legal action against Green Charter Township in federal court in March, contesting a decision by the Township Board to revoke a crucial agreement necessary for the development of Gotion’s $2.3 Billion EV battery plant in nearby Big Rapids.

The crux of Gotion’s claim lies in an alleged breach of contract. According to court records from August 2023, Gotion and the township entered into a Development Agreement to establish an electric vehicle battery components facility.

Gotion needs water access in place.

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A key provision of this agreement required the Township to pass a resolution supporting Gotion’s proposal to connect its facility with the Big Rapids water system.

However, the project has faced significant opposition from the community since its inception. This opposition culminated in the recall of five Township Board members last November for their support of the project, with two others resigning before the election.

New board rejects development agreement.

With the installation of the new board, a 4-3 vote was cast to annul a previously approved proposal aimed at expanding the city’s water supply to accommodate the factory’s site. The amount of water needed for the project, according to Gotion North America Vice President Chuck Thelen, is roughly 715,000 gallons per day.

In response to the Township’s actions, Gotion has sought a preliminary injunction from a federal judge, urging the Township to adhere to the contractual obligations established by the former board. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering.

Gotion says delays will cost the company.

Gotion argues that any delay would not only harm their interests but would also negatively impact the region, resulting in the loss of thousands of promised jobs. The company claims to have already invested millions into the project and emphasizes the importance of water infrastructure for its development.

The Township, represented by attorneys from Bauckham, Thall, Seeber, Kaufman & Koches, filed a response on April 12th opposing Gotion’s motion for a preliminary injunction. They argue that Gotion lacks the necessary approvals for the project and highlight the Township’s recent establishment of a Planning Commission to enact zoning ordinances, set to take effect on April 27th.

Currently, Mecosta County controls the zoning for the proposed Gotion construction site, and it wasn’t until early March that Gotion submitted an initial site plan and application for approval.

Gotion fighting against township enacting their own zoning ordinance.

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Gotion seeks injunctive relief to enforce the Development Agreement, reinstating the Water Extension Resolution and prohibiting the Township from enacting zoning ordinances that could impede the project.

The Township counters, asserting that the Development Agreement lacks enforceability due to procedural irregularities and illusory promises. These kinds of promises are statements that appear to be commitments or agreements but, in reality, lack any binding force.

Township says a supervisor cannot unilaterally bind the township to a contract.

The Township proceeds to assert that legal precedent explicitly establishes that a Township Supervisor cannot unilaterally bind a Township to a contract, emphasizing the necessity for Township Board approval of contracts.

Consequently, they contend that the Development Agreement was not “legally executed as per regulations.”

Township contends state constitution allows them to create planning commission and zoning ordinance.

Moreover, the Township argues that enforcing the agreement would infringe upon the Township’s legislative authority to create a Planning Commission and enact a Zoning Ordinance and contravene the Michigan Constitution.

Additionally, the Township asserts that Gotion would not suffer harm without an injunction, as they have yet to receive necessary approvals for construction.

Township says public interests are served by letting township board and citizens decide fate of project.

In their final argument, the Township emphasizes the public interest in allowing local authorities to carefully review and assess Gotion’s development plans through the enactment of zoning ordinances.

They state, “Rather than have decisions regarding this massive Project be made by Mecosta County or the former, now recalled, Township Board, the citizens of Green (Charter) Township desire to make decisions for themselves. The Township board is seeking to address the concerns of the voters and have the opportunity to provide meaningful input on this massive Project by enacting a zoning ordinance as authorized by laws. The granting of this injunction against the Township would lead directly to public harm, and this factor should be weighed strongly in favor of the Township.”

Watchdog group responds to Gotion lawsuit.

Michigan News Source reached out to former Ambassadors Peter Hoekstra and Joseph Cella, who co-chair the Michigan-China Economic and Security Review Group (MCESRG), to get their response to the situation and this was their statement: “The PRC and the CCP have three forms of warfare, the third being Legal Warfare, otherwise known as ‘lawfare.’ PRC/CCP lawfare is a means to use the legal system of any country to justify their actions, to try and secure a legal high ground and invalidate

the opposing party. For the PRC/CCP lawfare is considered to be a facet of unrestricted warfare, in fact, it is a form of soft combat for them.”

The statement went on to say, “PRC-based and CCP-tied Gotion is irate that five elected officials who rolled over for them were recalled, and it comes as no surprise that Gotion is now using lawfare to get the results they demand, contrary to the will of the citizens of Green Charter Township.”

Hoekstra and Cella continued, “Gotion continues to carry on every bit the way a company based in authoritarian Communist China would – in secrecy, heavy handedness, and twisted by misinformation and disinformation. The more Gotion attempts to answer questions, the more questions are
raised. Every day citizens from both sides of the aisle in Green Township are continuing to fight for facts on this ‘deal.’ Green Township is simply seeking to de-risk from this type of subnational incursion from Gotion that our national security and intelligence operations have warned present a national security threat, and preserve their pristine natural surroundings, water, and habitats.”

Hoekstra and Cella concluded their remarks by saying, “None of this would be happening if Governor Whitmer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and The Right Place had simply performed the strict scrutiny and due diligence as directed by our national security and intelligence agencies on this “deal” that is corrupted from head to tail. This is precisely why every day hard working Americans distrust government and business elites.”