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() — A controversial corn milling plant in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which was recently met with opposition from the U.S. Air Force, was canceled with the approval of the city council.
local affiliate KXNET reports that the city council voted unanimously to end the project at a meeting Monday night. Residents, determined to keep the Fufeng corn mill out of their city, packed the meeting room.
Last July, a China-based food producer called Fufeng Group purchased 300 acres of land in the Midwest farmlands of Grand Forks. This project site was situated about 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. One Air Force official, in a Jan.27 letter to two North Dakota senators, said the project “presents a significant threat to national security.”
Because of its proximity to the air base, Grand Forks has always considered any potential national security concern a “show-stopper,” according to city administrator Todd Feland.
“It just highlights there are many symbolic concerns that we have in our country and nothing really trumps national security,” Feland previously said.
The project has been a topic of local debate for the past two years, but only recently received official opposition from the Air Force. Now, the federal government, KXNET reports, has requested the city’s help in stopping the project as geo-political tensions increased since it was announced.
KXNET noted that the city only has to refuse to connect industrial infrastructure and deny the company building permits. The mayor of Grand Forks, Brandon Bochenski, has requested those remedies be undertaken and the project be stopped.
As Bochenski said in a press release, though, Fufeng still legally owns the land.
The Grand Forks Herald reports that it is still not known what the company wants to do with it. At this time, according to the newspaper, the city is still moving forward with water infrastructure projects for the annexation area.
Feland, ahead of Monday’s vote, said officials do hope to see the space under new ownership in the future, as it is a prime spot for agribusiness.
“We’re learning and we’re a lot smarter now than we were a year or two ago about national security and concerns with China,” Feland said.
local affiliate KXNET contributed to this report.