Like Quicken Loans CEO Dan GIlbert, the president of Hantz Farms has marshaled the power of the pen to personally strike at critics (alas, no Comic Sans font).

Mike Score, president of the company seeking to purchase 170 acres on Detroit's east side to make a space to plant 70,000 trees, released a long letter on Friday (scroll down to read). The missive strongly denies a recent accusations in a petition alleging that Hantz is working with Monsanto, a biotech company that produces pesticides and GMOs:

Skeptics have raised concerns and accusations, suggesting that Hantz Woodlands has held discussions with Monsanto, that have resulted in agreements to plant genetically modified crops and to indiscriminately apply pesticides across Detroit’s landscape. This simply is not true. Hantz Woodlands has no agreement with Monsanto and is not acting on behalf of Monsanto or any other large corporation. We are not going to plant genetically modified crops or indiscriminately apply pesticides across Detroit’s landscape.

As Mayor Dave Bing's administration looks to finalize the estimated $600,000 sale, pending City Council approval, some have raised concerns about Hantz' future plans and the unequal ease with which he's been able to purchase property compared to other residents.

And Score's letter mounts a vigorous defense against the claims of nameless skeptics.

"People who have been generous, and who practice civic duty and pride in their communities understand and support Hantz Group’s willingness to make this type of investment," he wrote.

Score underscores the Hantz Woodlands project's focus on eliminating blight, with plans to demolish 100 abandoned structures and planting trees rather than produce, though they would support changes to current zoning laws that prohibit commercial agriculture.

"In the event that the city passes an ordinance … Hantz Woodlands will recover development costs, over time, through the sale of trees and ornamental crops," he wrote.

The company will invest $5 million in the project the first three years. Despite concerns, they insist community groups and residents are on board.

"We are in constant contact with all of the people who live in the area and more than 95 percent support this project," Score wrote.

(It's unclear what population Score and Hantz are referring to.)

Below, see the full letter from Hantz Farms President Mike Score.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY ABOUT HANTZ WOODLANDS FROM MIKE SCORE, PRESIDENT OF HANTZ FARMS

Hantz Woodlands will clean up 170 acres on the lower east side of Detroit, by planting and maintaining more than 70,000 hardwood trees, eliminating blight and creating an environment where people want to live, work and play.

Hantz Woodlands is a company formed by the Hantz Group to invest in improvement of Detroit neighborhoods. Nearly one-third of the city landscape has become publicly owned through foreclosure. The city is unable to complete even basic maintenance practices on publicly owned parcels. City owned structures have fallen into disrepair. Vacant lots are no longer mowed. Illegal dumping can be seen in all corners of the city. Residents across the city complain that unmanaged city property is a dangerous eyesore that must be corrected to prevent further population loss and economic decline.

John Hantz, a 20 year resident of Detroit, shares concerns held by many Detroiters about the expanding blight across the city. As CEO of the Hantz Group he has led his company in committing to purchase and repurpose larger tracts of neglected land, by stopping the blight through site cleanup and the planting of trees.

People who have been generous, and who practice civic duty and pride in their communities understand and support Hantz Group’s willingness to make this type of investment. The effort is to clean up, maintain and create a beautiful environment that will grow the City’s population base and create an economic catalyst by stimulating new business opportunities and therefore, jobs.

Hantz Woodlands has negotiated an agreement with the city that, if approved by city council, will result in the purchase of approximately 170 acres on the city’s lower east side for a premium of $3,600 an acre -- 1/3 higher than the City’s value of the land. Hantz also agreed that the City can sell the property within the designated area to the neighbors who are already gardening on those lots.

Hantz Woodlands will invest approximately $5 million over the first three years of operations to clean up properties and plant trees. Hantz Woodlands would remove brush from alleys and debris from vacant lots so that the land can be mowed regularly and planted to mixed hardwoods. In the event that the city passes an ordinance which allows for certain types of commercial agriculture in Detroit, Hantz Woodlands will recover development costs, over time, through the sale of trees and ornamental crops.

The agreement includes a public/private partnership that would demolish more than 100 abandoned structures. Project overhead costs normally paid by the city will instead be covered by Hantz Woodlands and recovered over time through tax credits.

In establishing a woodland our company will be making a commitment to a 60 year cycle between planting and harvesting of trees. Successful repurposing of this land would result in an option to expand Hantz Woodlands through the purchase of other unmanaged city properties. Purchasing the land is appropriate given the scale of investment required to improve livability within the affected area.

Skeptics have raised concerns and accusations, suggesting that Hantz Woodlands has held discussions with Monsanto, that have resulted in agreements to plant genetically modified crops and to indiscriminately apply pesticides across Detroit’s landscape. This simply is not true. Hantz Woodlands has no agreement with Monsanto and is not acting on behalf of Monsanto or any other large corporation. We are not going to plant genetically modified crops or indiscriminately apply pesticides across Detroit’s landscape.

The purpose of Hantz Woodlands is to clean up neglected properties and establish well managed hardwoods that will provide color in spring and fall, and shade and greening during summer months. It is one of only six projects endorsed by the Lower Eastside Action Plan. We have the support of many block clubs and non-profit organizations. We are in constant contact with all of the people who live in the area and more than 95 percent support this project. We are working closely with and have the support of all City Departments to ensure success for this project.

In taking steps to launch Hantz Woodlands investment we have affirmed the good work that others are doing to contribute to a more vibrant Detroit. Expansion of the Detroit River Walk, improvements in the city’s business districts, the hundreds of urban gardens and the ongoing investments of thousands of Detroit residents in improvements to their properties are all part of a concerted effort that is needed to revitalize Detroit’s neighborhoods and marketplaces.

Hantz Woodlands has an open door policy. Background information about our company can be found at www.hantzfarmsdetroit.com . We have established a small demonstration area in the neighborhood next to our office located at 17403 Mt. Elliot in Detroit. Anyone who would like to see the demonstration area can contact our office at 313-893-1937 to schedule a tour. Questions and dialogue are welcome.

Michael Score
President, Hantz Farms

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