With Air Force officials urging a “no” vote, a North Dakota city council unanimously voted to deny building permits for a proposed corn mill near the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
The proposed facility is owned by the Fufeng Group, which planned to open and operate it as a reported food processing facility.
“The Chinese-owned Fufeng Group paid $2.3 million to purchase the 300 acres of land just 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. The company plans to invest $700 million to open the mill,” Fox News reports.
But it’s also only 12 miles away from the Air Force base, where the U.S. military operates sensitive drone technology.
All five members of the Grand Forks City Council voted against the Fufeng Group project, which “was met with cheers and chants of ‘USA!’ from the public in attendance” Fox News reports.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, appearing earlier on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” told Fox News the council could “basically deny infrastructure and deny building permits.
“So they have the land, but they have no ability to build anything on it,” Bochenski noted.
Air Force officials warned the Chinese-owned corn mill could be used as a base to surveil and collect information on U.S. defense technology.
“Grand Forks Air Force Base is the center of military activities related to both air and space operations,” Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter wrote in a letter to both of North Dakota’s U.S. Senators.
“While [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] concluded that it did not have jurisdiction, the Department’s view is unambiguous: the proposed project presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area,” Hunter added.
Some city officials supported plans to move ahead with the mill, until the Air Force voiced concerns.
“The federal government has requested the city’s help in stopping the project as geo-political tensions have greatly increased since the initial announcement of the project,” Bochenski said in a statement ahead of the meeting. “The only remedies the city has to meet this directive is to refuse to connect industrial infrastructure and deny building permits.”
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