A legal demand letter was issued Monday, challenging the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s designation of a Renaissance Zone in Mecosta County for the purpose of building the Gotion electric vehicle battery plant.
Eckland & Blanco attorney Robby Dube authored the letter to MEDC President and CEO Quentin Messer, Jr.; Eric D. Williams, attorney for BigRapids Township; Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place; Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion, Inc.; Big Rapids Mayor Fred Guenther; Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford; Big Rapids Township Board Supervisor Bill Stanek; and Green Charter Board Supervisor Jim Chapman.
“We are writing to inform MEDC of legal infirmities with the Renaissance Zone designated and to therefore demand that MEDC rescind the illegal Renaissance Zone,” the letter states.
Eckland & Blanco was retained by Green Township and Big Rapids Township residents and nonprofits.
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Dube asserts the MEDC violated Michigan law when it granted permanent status for a Renaissance Zone for the Gotion plant. Citing Michigan Common Law statutes concerning the establishment of renaissance zones, Dube notes the law limits renaissance zones to 15 years.
Dube referenced the Federal Preemption of Provision of the Motor Carrier Act of 1997, which states: “Nowhere is the [agency] granted the authority to rewrite statutes.”
He asserts that the Gotion plant was given an automatic 15-year extension but added that the Gotion project doesnot qualify as a standard renaissance zone, but is, instead, an alternativeenergy zone, which the law states cannot exceed more than 20 years. Dube alsonoted Michigan law states that a renaissance zone cannot be extended beyond 15years if it was not extended before 2011 or created by 1008.
“Thus, on its face, the Renaissance Zone is illegal and MEDC’s decision to designate it was beyond the scope of its authority and arbitrary and capricious,” Dube wrote.
“The Renaissance Zone was illegal from its very creation,” Dube continued. “It has only become more illegal as the mandatory elements for a Renaissance Zone no longer apply,” the letterstates. “At a minimum the significantly changed conditions that have arisensince the initial plan was submitted mandate a reevaluation of the RenaissanceZone and its duration.”
Dube granted MEDC 14 days to respond whether it will withdraw its renaissance zone designation. “If it does not,” he wrote, “we reserve our rights to take appropriate legal action.”