BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rezoning request linked to the new battery plant planned for the Big Rapids area has been withdrawn for now.
The rezoning was scheduled to go before the Mecosta County planning commission Thursday.
According to Annette Coles, Mecosta County’s Director of Building and Zoning, portions of land near the proposed battery plant site are already zoned industrial. Gotion, the company behind the plant, wanted the commission to approve rezoning an additional 11 parcels.
A spokesperson for Gotion, the company behind the plant, said the rezoning delay is temporary and the company will continue to move forward with the project, including a federal review of the plans.
Gotion wants to build a $2.4 billion electric vehicle battery plant that would create 2,350 jobs. The development would fill 324 acres in an industrial park just outside the city of Big Rapids near the airport.
A protest happened on Thursday about the plan to build the plant. Opponents say they are worried about Gotion’s ties to the China government and its impact on a small town.
“It’s just crazy that they want to put it up here in the middle of nowhere and not in a metropolitan area with rail, shipping, all the things that makes it economical to produce,” said Jeff Peticolas, a Colfax Township resident.
Those against the project say they also have concerns about the environment.
“We don’t want a big cement factory. Piled cement over a beautiful swamp, beautiful wetlands, it’s a migratory place. There’s so many things that’s wrong with this,” said Steve Lowry, Green Charter Township resident.
Despite Gotion delaying their rezoning request Thursday, Coles said it wouldn’t impact the company’s ability to start construction on the pieces of land currently zoned industrial.
“According to the zoning ordinance, it is allowable by right for a manufacturing plant to go in there. The only stipulation is they would have to have a site plan review and that would have to come back in front of the planning commission,” Coles said.