Citizens of Green Charter Township are fighting back against their elected leaders who are continuing to push forward on a plan to bring a Chinese Communist Party-connected battery plant to the community.
Residents have launched two efforts, including a referendum on the small township’s plan to create its own planning commission to more easily convert agricultural farm land for industrial use. They also plan to recall the entire township board over what they say is a lack of communication and transparency.
According to organizers, 133 signatures are required from the township that about 2,000 people call home. They submitted 399, which essentially freezes the township’s action and forces a township-wide vote later this year on whether to proceed.
They are required to file 417 signatures to recall the board, including Clerk Janet Clark and Treasurer Denise MacFarlane, as well as trustees James Peek, Gary Todd, Dale Jernstadt, and Roger Carroll. Organizers tell The Midwesterner they have collected the minimum amount but are planning to file about 600 within the next month.
Supervisor James Chapman filed an appeal to the approval of his petition language, delaying that collection campaign by a couple weeks.
But residents “are salivating waiting to sign,” an organizer told The Midwesterner.
“We are geeked. We are just nobodys all thrown together, found a common cause, and the teams have just really taken this and run with it,” Mary Engelsman, one of the Mecosta County residents working on the recall effort, said, adding it is a “David-and-Goliath kind of thing.”
She said the 399 referendum signatures were collected in just 5 days, demonstrating the energy residents have for opposing the board’s efforts to bring the company into the community.
“People are just coming out of the woodwork to come out and sign,” Englesman told The Midwesterner. “It’s really very exciting. We’re finding there are tons of people supporting this.”
She said there are 14 3-member teams gathering signatures to force a vote, and two-thirds are Green Charter Township residents.
“We’re just going to keep going,” Engelsman said of their efforts. “We're not going to just turn over and play dead.”
“This is very important. We’ve not had a say in this Gotion thing. This has been shoved down our throats from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on down so it’s important for people to be able to vote and have a say,” she added.
If organizers collect a sufficient number of valid signatures, a recall vote would be held likely in November. The incumbents would square off against challengers in a special election.
This story has been updated.