One of the integral pieces of property to the Gotion High-Tech battery plant project in Green Charter Township is owned by a township trustee.
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.
Records also show another transaction on September 23, 2021 involving the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development:
Documents from the Register of Deeds indicate he sold the development rights to MDARD through December 31, 2027, and must obtain permission from the state agency to sell the property for a use other than farming.
WPBN recently aired a story featuring township Supervisor Jim Chapman, where he ridiculed critics who have raised questions about the company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The story showed a map of the property Gotion is purchasing. The news station inadvertently aired Jernstadt’s property lines (in red with number) and showed the trustee’s property in the middle of the company’s overall intended footprint.
During a September 16, 2022 special meeting held by Green Charter Township, Big Rapids Charter Township, and the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners, a motion was made to “allow” Jernstadt to abstain from votes related to the Gotion project “due to a conflict of interest in ownership of property in the area proposed in the Renaissance Zone,” which overlaps both townships. Jernstadt voted in favor of the motion, meeting minutes show.
Jernstadt did not respond to repeated email and phone contacts by The Midwesterner for a response.
Specifically, we wanted to know when Jernstadt first learned of the potential Gotion project. We also wanted to know when he decided to sell his property to Gotion and for what price.
Sources tell The Midwesterner properties intended for the project are being put under contract for significantly more that 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.
A draft purchase agreement reviewed by The Midwesterner said Gotion will purchase the property “is expressly contingent on the ultimate ‘End User’ of the Premises receiving any and all required municipal/governmental agency approvals, all internal corporate approvals, and also an acceptable incentive package from the State of Michigan to locate and operate its business on the Premises.”
Sources tell The Midwesterner property owners are being required to sign lengthy non-disclosure agreements with Gotion with strict penalties for non-compliance.
Jernstadt would not say if he would ask Gotion to lift the NDA to allow him to be transparent about the timing of the purchase and sale, and whether he was profiting from having inside knowledge of the project.
The trustee’s land makes up 17.6 percent of the 408 acres Gotion is acquiring in Green Charter Township. The company was seeking an additional 115 acres in Big Rapids Charter Township until resistance developed over the company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
The Midwesterner previously exclusively reported Gotion High-Tech, the China-based battery maker, is required to grow the CCP within the grassroots of the company.
Gotion’s founder, Zhen Li has close ties with the CCP. His son is CEO of Gotion, Inc., the “American” subsidiary frequently referenced by Chapman and others pushing the project.
MiBiz reported last month that Gotion plans 3 million square feet of building space across six buildings in that area.
“The facility is expected to produce up to 150,000 tons of cathode material and 50,000 tons of anode material a year,” according to Reuters.
Former Ambassadors Joseph Cella and Pete Hoekstra have requested an investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by several individuals, including Chapman, who are pushing the project.