As lawyers focused on wind and solar projects in Michigan, we work through the complex legal terrain of land use, zoning regulations and permits.
Renewable energy projects in Michigan face a unique and often complicated approval process. Because such projects are currently regulated by local municipalities rather than state or county authorities, developers must navigate the maze of local master plans, zoning ordinances, politics and public opinion.
Varnum’s experienced team of renewable energy lawyers has navigated dozens of wind and solar projects through the entire permitting and approval process. Our experience goes back to the 1980s, when we represented many of Michigan’s first commercial-scale renewable energy developments, including wood-fired and waste-to-energy projects as well as the first large-scale wind operations in Michigan’s Thumb area. Today Varnum represents wind and solar developers with in dozens of projects across the state in both peninsulas.
Our experienced team provides a variety of services in support of large-scale renewable energy projects.
We regularly assist developers in the following areas:
- Agricultural Preservation: With a strong agricultural industry, Michigan’s agricultural preservation policies may restrict certain land uses, including wind and solar projects. We have helped developers navigate these limitations and find the perfect spot for their renewable energy projects.
- Setbacks and Other Zoning Restrictions: Renewable energy projects must comply with various township restrictions, which can limit the size and placement of solar panels and wind turbines. We have guided developers through these restrictions and find creative solutions.
- Permitting and Approval Processes: Developers must obtain permits (often times special land use permits) and approvals from local zoning boards and planning commissions as well as county drain commissioners. We have helped steer projects through the permitting and approval processes while ensuring compliance with regulations. This can include representing projects at open meetings and public hearings held by local municipalities.
- Land Use Agreements: Developers may need to secure land use agreements with local landowners or government officials. We have assisted in negotiating these agreements and addressing potential disputes.
- Environmental Review: Solar and wind projects may be subject to environmental reviews, such as the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, wetland regulations, stream crossing and endangered species protections. We have helped developers navigate these reviews and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
- Community Outreach and Education: Community support can be crucial for a project’s success. We have helped developers create strategies for community outreach and education, building support and addressing local concerns.
- Regulatory Compliance: Solar and wind projects are subject to a myriad of federal, state, and local regulations. We have helped developers ensure their projects comply with all applicable laws and regulations and address any potential compliance issues that may arise.
- Litigation Support: In case of disputes or litigation related to renewable energy projects, we have provided legal support and representation to help developers protect their interests, as well as participating landowners’ interests, to achieve a favorable resolution.
By offering comprehensive legal support to energy developers in Michigan, we help overcome challenges, adhere to regulations, and ultimately contribute to achieving Michigan’s ambitious renewable energy goals.