While some Montcalm County farmers are excited about the prospect of leasing farmland to Apex Clean Energy for a proposed wind turbine project, other farmers are not interested – and they want everyone to be clear on this point.
Three potato farms in Montcalm County – Crooks, Main and Sackett – recently sent a cease and desist letter to Apex regarding what those farmers say are untruths stated by Apex salesmen. In response, Apex said it was a misunderstanding.
Crooks Potato Farm is based in the Edmore-Stanton area and farms about 7,000 acres. Main Farms is based in Cato Township, owns about 7,500 acres and farms 14,000 acres in Montcalm, Mecosta and Isabella counties. Sackett Potatoes is based in Mecosta and Montcalm counties and farms 18,200 acres (including a new venture in Illinois).
Paul Main and his son Dan Main, who own Main Farms, contacted the Daily News to request a story clarifying the issue.
“They’ve (Apex) been going around dropping our name and a couple other farmers that we’re in favor of the turbines and that we’ve signed up with them,” Paul Main said. “We don’t like that. That’s not good business.”
Trent Hilding, the attorney for Crooks and Main farms, drafted a cease and desist letter on behalf of Crooks and Main farms and sent it to Apex. Hilding said in response to the letter, Apex officials say they have spoken with all their land agents and also said that if any landowner names were mentioned in conversation, they believe those names were taken out of context.
“I had a landlord – and so did Paul Main – that directly called me and indicated that he had a land representative there from Apex trying to sign up his property and told him that I had signed up, Mains had signed up and Sacketts had signed up, that everybody was on board and that he should get on board,” Hilding told the Daily News. “I told them I didn’t want my name used, that I didn’t want to be involved. There is some misrepresentation and everybody should do their research before signing up for anything.”
Meanwhile, Michelle Parr, who is affiliated with Sackett Potatoes, posted on the Montcalm County Citizens United Facebook page to clarify that Sackett has not leased any land for wind energy. Parr did add that some land that Sackett has leased from others in the past has signed on for a solar project in Day Township, but she said that choice was made by the landowners.
“Sackett Ranch has not and will not ever lease any of its land to solar or wind,” she posted on April 7.
Apex Senior Development Manager Albert Jongewaard confirmed to the Daily News that Crooks, Main and Sackett farms have not signed any easements with Apex and are not in discussions to do so.
“From the beginning, the Montcalm Wind project and easement have been designed to be compatible with potato farming operations, a vital and important industry for Montcalm County,” Jongewaard said. “We have been quite vocal about these considerations and our commitment to work around irrigation systems and existing land uses. Because of this, some have incorrectly assumed that certain major potato growers were participating in the project. As important leaders in the community, we appreciate their outreach and feedback on this topic and hope to have the opportunity to visit with them and others in the future regarding the project’s design and the benefits it will provide to all Montcalm County residents.”
[rest of article available at source]
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