ADA TOWNSHIP (AP) -- To prevent him from erecting a billboard along a state highway, township officials have voted to give $329,000 to state Rep. Kevin Green for a 6.87-acre parcel that he earlier agreed to buy for about one-fifth of that amount.
The township's Board of Trustees voted 4-3 in mid-November to approve the deal.
Some trustees said Green, a Wyoming Republican who does not represent the Kent County township, knew they did not want a billboard on the site and forced the township's hand. Green said the township improperly tried to block his plans for a legal sign.
"All he wanted to do was rape and pillage this area," Trustee Mischelle Sytsma said. She "reluctantly" voted to buy the land, which is next to the Grand River.
Green called it "a win-win situation."
"They don't have the sign, and we bought the property for an investment purpose," he said.
Green's real estate investment company, Wing LLC, gave up $50,000 to $60,000 a year in billboard revenue, he said. Those figures are at the high end but consistent with a number of sources on billboard income.
"I'm trying to be community-minded," Green said. "The value of the cash flow I'm giving up is worth way more than the land itself."
"I think that everyone has a right to make money," said township Trustee John Westra, who opposed the purchase. "But I think that making money while in service as a public official, at the expense of the community, is a bad precedent to set."
Green signed a purchase agreement in May to buy the land for $67,000 from DP Fox Ventures LLC, which is headed up by Daniel DeVos, son of Amway Corp. co-founder Richard DeVos. Green said he expects to complete his purchase from DP Fox as well as the sale to Ada Township on the same day in January.
Daniel DeVos is among the biggest contributors to Green's political action committee, Green Team Majority Fund, with gifts totaling $3,000 since late last year, according to state records.
The township has only two billboards, both of which are along busy M-21, where traffic counts average nearly 12,000 vehicles per day.