Controversies continue to plague the proposed $2.4 billion Gotion Inc. electric battery component manufacturing plant in Mecosta County.

A federal lawsuit filed on Friday by the company is the latest wrinkle in the ongoing drama between the manufacturer and Green Charter Township’s recently installed Board of Trustees.

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Local opposition to siting the plant rose to such a fervor that Township voters recalled five of the Board’s previous trustees last November. Two other members of the seven-member Board resigned. The previous Board was in favor of the CCP Gotion plant to the extent they approved a 30-year Renaissance property tax abatement, valued at $540 million.

“On Friday, our Township was served with a federal lawsuit by Gotion, Inc.,” Green Charter Township Supervisor Jason Kruse said in a statement. “We are saddened and disappointed by their decision to proceed in this direction, As Township Supervisor, my number one concern is protecting the interests of the people of Green Charter Township, and we will vigorously defend  our township’s position in this matter. We might be a small community, but we refuse to be bullied.”

“This case presents a simple breach of contract claim arising from the unlawful actions of the new members of the Green Charter Township Board, the majority of whom are motivated by admitted anti-Gotion animus,” CCP Gotion’s brief in support for a preliminary injunction begins.

“The Township’s continued breaches of its contractual obligations to CCP Gotion and will cause CCP Gotion imminent and irreparable harm,” the brief continues.

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“Whereas the new Board immediately withdrew the Township’s welcome mat for the manufacturer, including putting in place a Township Planning Commission that will assume its duties next month withdrawing the previous Board’s approval to connect the Gotion plant to the City of Big Rapids’ water system,” the suit claims, adding, “Gotion is left with no choice but to seek this Court’s intervention” because the Township’s approval is mandatory for Gotion to proceed with its plant.

The suit argues the hindering the battery plant “prevents the realization of the will of the entire state of Michigan, which continues to hold ambitious goals of obtaining 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. This state’s commitment to these goals was recently reaffirmed in November 2023 when the state legislature passed a series of landmark clean energy laws. The state’s endorsement of these initiatives has spurred $20 billion in investments in various energy-related sectors within one year of the passage of the IRA and has secured for Michigan 14 projects in clean energy, battery, and EV manufacturing.”

The opponents in the community amount to “a vocal minority of dissenters,” CCP Gotion claims.

CCP Gotion’s proponents overwhelmingly lost their recalls, which were solely viewed as a mandate on the township leaders’ insistence on the CCP Gotion project.

Then-Supervisor James Chapman won just 40 percent of the vote, while Kruse won 60 percent, according to UpNorthLive. CCP Gotion’s other supporters suffered similar fates:

  • Dale Jernstadt (incumbent) 38 percent to challenger Jeff Thorne’s 62 percent
  • Roger Carroll (incumbent) 43 percent to challenger Kelly Cushway’s 57 percent
  • Janet Clark (incumbent) 47 percent to challenger Corri Riebow’s 53 percent
  • Denise MacFarlane (incumbent) 47 percent to challenger Robert Henderson’s 53 percent

“Allowing Gotion’s Project to be obstructed by a vocal minority of dissenters at this time will discourage further progress on this front. Nationally, Gotion is among the companies attempting to provide the impetus behind the much-needed overhaul to the domestic production of EVs and EV batteries, and hindering its forward moment jeopardizes national economic policy aims,” the suit says.

“It’s unfortunate that Gotion has had to resort to litigation to get the township to comply with their obligations under the agreement,” Chuck Thelen, Gotion’s vice president of North American manufacturing said in a statement. “We’re unable to comment further since this is now an ongoing legal matter.”

Photo by Esteban Clark.