If there is an aquaculture farm, transmission line, solar development, or other large-scale project proposed near your home, you may be questioning whether you want it there, if there’s anything you can do to oppose it, or if there is anything you can do to support it but reduce any potential negative impacts. Under these circumstances, it’s not uncommon for groups of like-minded community members to come together to voice their concerns and be able to more effectively oppose or influence alterations to a project by working together.

Often, these groups form as individuals with interests in making sure that if a project does move forward, it will not have extensive environmental impacts. There may also be support from community groups or organizations with a shared common interest. Once a group has formed and there is significant enthusiasm from community members, it’s in the best interest of the group to bring in a qualified attorney to discuss next steps and how to effectively work toward the desired outcome. These types of groups might also need to consider forming a nonprofit or IRS-recognized entity to help with fundraising in what can be an expensive legal battle. Forming a group is an effective strategy to ensure that if the project moves forward, it’s doing so in a way that’s sensitive to the neighbors.

 Why should an attorney be involved?

A knowledgeable land use attorney can help determine how to best navigate the state, municipal, and sometimes federal impacts during the permitting processes. They have the experience and knowledge to know the standards and legal regulatory processes and advise the group on what else to anticipate and prepare for. That is why it is important to engage legal counsel before the regulatory proceedings get too far along. Early engagement can also provide the opportunity to influence a developer to make changes.

The regulatory processes vary by state, but an attorney can help provide an understanding of how interagency permit processes play out in these situations. For example, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has its own permitting processes, while the Maine Public Utilities Commission comes into play when it’s an energy-related project. There are multiple levels to understand when you’re trying to influence a project’s development within the permitting process. Knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel in these areas can help ensure nothing is overlooked, including advising the group of any other legal avenues that may be available both during and after the regulatory proceedings, such as filing appeals or a separate legal action in state or federal court.

An attorney can help navigate what this path forward looks like. However it evolves, the land use group at Murray Plumb and Murray has the capacity and ability to take the case where it needs to go.

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