Senate Race Gets Heated Over ‘Land’ Controversy

Posted at 9:09 PM, May 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-14 22:58:24-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (May 14, 2014) – Call it a campaign controversy.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters and Republican Terri Lynn Land are the candidates running to fill the shoes of retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin.

While Election Day in November is still several months away, each campaign is looking to gain momentum heading into the summer.

Rep. Peters visited the campus of Western Michigan University on Tuesday as part of his ‘Michigan First Listening Tour.’ Peters stopped by the Innovation Center at the Business Technology and Research Park in Kalamazoo.

As for Peters himself, there’s a new campaign ad from the congressman that’s now doing most of the talking.

Peters’ ad claims to tell the story behind Land’s ‘Success Story’ ad.

While both ads focus on a property in Grandville, that’s where the similarities end.

Buzzfeed first reported about the property in question, which was once La Grande Mobile Home Park.

Back in July 2004, the Grand Rapids Press reported residents of that park were told they had one year to move out.

Minutes from Grandville planning commission meetings in March and April 2005 show a disagreement over the how the property would be zoned going forward – residential or commercial.

By April 2010, the property was re-zoned for commercial purposes.

The Peters ad makes the claim that Terri Lynn Land owns and controls the property.

According to the City of Grandville the property is owned by Land & Co., or one of its subsidiaries.

Campaign finance disclosures from Land show the company is run by her husband, Dan Hibma.

Land was traveling today and unavailable for an interview.

Her campaign spokeswoman, Heather Swift, sent the following statement to FOX 17:

This ad is a false and a scurrilous mischaracterization of the facts. The fact that Congressman Peters has resorted to attacking Terri’s family shows the level of Congressman Peters’ desperation. Terri Lynn Land is proud of her family’s hard-working roots and she understands the struggles Michigan families and small businesses face in this economy. Gary Peters on the other hand was a salesman for Wall Street big banks and power brokers, profiting greatly trading highly speculative derivatives. Today, Congressman Peters is involved in the same reckless behavior that threatens our economy and energy security like opposing the Keystone Pipeline and selling out Michigan jobs to a California billionaire.

“I don’t know the basis for that,” Rep. Peters told FOX 17. “It is a park that was sold. It’s just interesting that after they acquired that trailer park, they expelled everybody and bulldozed the property, looking to redevelop it for some other purpose. That’s never happened. It’s now an empty field.”

Grandville’s assistant city manager, Matt Butts, told FOX 17 the city would love to see the property developed in the near future, as it’s been sitting empty for nearly a decade. He also said the city has been contacted periodically about interest in the site, but those talks never materialized.