Our attorneys have extensive experience in helping our clients navigate the complex web of local, state, and federal permitting requirements, and their applicability to development projects large and small. We frequently represent developers, individual landowners, and businesses of all sizes in obtaining approvals from local planning boards and zoning boards of appeal, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Land Use Planning Commission, and a host of other state and federal government agencies. Our expertise extends to a broad range of matters, including:
- Local Site Plan, Subdivision, Conditional Use, and Special Exception Approvals and Amendments
- Zoning ordinance amendments and Contract Zones
- Shoreland Zoning
- Maine’s Subdivision Law
- Site Location of Development Act
- Natural Resources Protection Act
- Submerged Lands Leases
- FEMA Floodplain regulation
- Stormwater regulation
- Wetlands Dredge and Fill Permits (Army Corps)
Our in-depth knowledge and strategic counsel serve as an invaluable asset to any development project, whether you are a developer seeking approval of a large-scale mixed use development, a business owner seeking expansion of a nonconforming (grandfathered) use, or a landowner seeking to develop property in the shoreland zone. Every project is different, and while we often find ourselves in a lead role, we frequently collaborate with engineers, architects, consultants, and surveyors to achieve timely, cost-effective solutions for our clients.
Land Use Issues and Disputes
Land use issues come in all varieties, and sometimes the solution is not as straightforward as obtaining a permit. You might have questions regarding an easement on your property, or alternatively, your right to use an easement on another’s property. You might be embroiled in a boundary dispute with your neighbor. Whatever the issue, we have a proven track record of finding creative solutions to challenging problems involving real property.
Our goal is to find the most practical, cost-effective solution for our client, which frequently means avoiding litigation. We don’t shy away from conflict, however, and have the experience to skillfully represent our clients in the courtroom. We have represented developers, businesses, landowners, and abutters in appeals from and in defense of local zoning and planning and State land use law decisions. We have also defended individuals and business owners against land use violation claims by local and State government agencies. We have filed, argued, and defended dozens of appeals from local and State land use decisions and have briefed and argued many land use and municipal cases before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Environmental Due Diligence and Compliance
Environmental and land use permitting questions often arise in the context of an acquisition or major redevelopment of an ongoing business. The stakes are higher when the property involved has a history of soil or groundwater contamination. We frequently advise both lenders and businesses on permitting due diligence matters, permit transfers, and strategies to minimize environmental liability. Using our in-depth knowledge of the law and our strong working relationships with regulatory agencies, we also provide strategic counsel to our clients on a broad range of environmental matters, spanning from regulatory compliance to enforcement actions, negotiating the cleanup of contaminated sites, including petroleum, hazardous waste, and brownfield sites, with governmental authorities and third party landowners, and minimizing our clients’ potential future liability.
We also spend much of our time evaluating and minimizing our clients’ environmental risks as they pursue and complete real estate and business transactions that involve the transfer of contaminated or potentially contaminated properties. Our expertise extends to a host of federal environmental laws, including CERCLA (also known as the “Superfund” law), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Clean Water Act, including federal point source discharge laws, and their Maine law counterparts, including the Maine Uncontrolled Sites Law, the Maine Oil Pollution Liability Act, the Maine hazardous waste laws, and the Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES). We regularly assist clients with environmental due diligence in connection with acquisitions, mergers, and the sales of commercial and industrial properties. We advocate for our clients in connection with sale or lease agreements in which there are complicated allocations of environmental liability, and advise clients on a range of environmental issues including the closing out of environmental escrow accounts or the exercise of indemnification provisions.
It is our specialized knowledge of environmental law, coupled with our commitment to personal service, efficiency, and relationship-building, that makes us effective representatives for our clients.
Some recent matters we have handled illustrate the scope of our work:
- On behalf of a developer client, successfully obtained municipal and state permits and approvals required for a large-scale mixed use development spanning across the boundary between two municipalities.
- Successfully achieved the re-zoning of commercial property through the amendment of a local zoning ordinance by contract zone.
- Provided strategic counsel to an intervenor in a proceeding before the Maine Land Use Commission involving a hydropower permitting matter.
- Provided permitting and environmental due diligence counsel in connection with the financing of a grid-scale wind energy project.
- Successfully obtained approvals from the City Harbor Commission, Maine DEP, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in connection with a complex redevelopment project involving contaminated property.
- Successfully appealed a propane and natural gas inspector’s decision to the Propane and Natural Gas Board of Maine, enabling the client to install an engineered, state of the art greenhouse heating and CO2 production system.
- Represented a natural gas public utility in land asset disposition before the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
- Obtained a favorable decision from the Maine Law Court on behalf of Maine Rivers, Trout Unlimited, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, intervenors in the case of FPL Energy Maine Hydro v. DEP, which affirmed a decision by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection.
- Obtained municipal approvals required in order for client to redevelop an existing building in the shoreland zone into retail and restaurant space, while simultaneously resolving a property dispute with an abutting landowner.