Michael Birch

Partner
About

Michael focuses his practice on land use and zoning, commercial real estate, and land use and real estate related litigation, and he offers clients experience in obtaining and protecting development approvals from local governments and state agencies.  Michael regularly represents landowners and developers before local governing boards, planning boards and boards of adjustment in communities across the state and assists in the development process at the zoning, site plan, conditional and special use permit, variance, building permit and enforcement stages of a project.

Prior to joining Morningstar Law Group, Michael was an associate in Raleigh office of K&L Gates LLP and a member of the firm’s Real Estate – Land Use, Planning and Zoning practice group.

Michael and his wife Jennifer have three children, Lilley, Tripp and Bowen.

Professional Background

Michael is also actively involved with green building and sustainable development initiatives.  He is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED-AP), a distinction he earned through the Green Building Certification Institute.  As a LEED-AP, he has demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles, as well as the LEED Rating System.  He also has been a featured speaker at events statewide on the topics of green design and sustainable development.

In addition, Michael is active in the community through service on boards and commissions.  He is currently the chair of the Triangle Community Coalition, an organization focused on promoting good public policy concerning economic growth and development at the local government level.  He also serves as the vice-chair of the Raleigh Stormwater Management Advisory Commission and as a member of the Wake County Planning Board.  Michael was recently appointed to the board of directors of SAFEchild, a local non-profit focused on eliminating child abuse in Wake County.

Education/Admissions

Michael is licensed to practice in North Carolina.  He graduated from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University is 2007, where he served on the Cumberland Law Review.  He received his undergraduate degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 2004, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He also received a Master of Public Administration degree in 2007 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he earned the honor of Outstanding Student of the Year.

Representative Work

  • Lead attorney in obtaining variances for developers and landowners from boards of adjustment in Raleigh and Emerald Isle
  • Lead attorney in obtaining conditional use permit approval for convenience store with gas sales use from Smithfield Town Board
  • Lead attorney in obtaining rezoning and site plan approval from Raleigh City Council and Raleigh Planning Commission for multi-family and mixed-use projects
  • Lead attorney in obtaining rezoning in Raleigh for pharmacy use
  • Lead attorney in obtaining summary judgment for property owner against contractor for breach of contract
  • Represented local developer in obtaining rezoning, site plan, site permits and building permits for urban infill mixed-use project in Raleigh
  • Represented local developer in appeal of quasi-judicial decision to obtain site plan approval for automotive service and repair facility
  • Represented regional developer and assisted in defending and resolving numerous lien claims
Professional Activities/Achievements

  • Triangle Community Coalition
    • Chairman (2012-2013)
    • Executive Committee (2010-2012)
  • City of Raleigh Stormwater Management Advisory Commission, Vice-Chair
  • Wake County Planning Board, Member
  • City of Raleigh Development Services Advisory Committee, Member
    • Plan Review/Field Inspection Subcommittee Co-Chair
  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section
      • Ethics Committee, Co-Chair (2012)
      • Articles Committee, Co-Chair (2010-2011)
      • Pro Bono Committee, Co-Chair (2009)
  • Urban Land Institute
    • Roundtable Committee, Member (2012)
    • Membership Committee, Co-Chair (2009-2011)
  • American Planning Association
    • Planning and Law Division, Member
  • SAFEchild
    • Board of Directors, Member (2012)
  • Super Lawyer Rising Star 2014-2016
Presentations/Publications

  • “Basic Zoning Law Regulations & Principles,” co-presenter at The Real Estate Development Approval Process program by National Business Institute, November 2011.
  • “Understanding the Zoning & Development Approval Process,” co-presenter at The Real Estate Development Approval Process program by National Business Institute, November 2011.
  • “2011 Legislative Update,” co-presenter at the 3rd Annual Leadership Summit for the North Carolina Association of REALTORS, October 2011.
  • “Legal Issues Associated with Green Design & Construction Projects,” co-presenter at the 2011 Emerging Green Business Conference, September 2011.
  • “2011 Legislative and Case Law Update,” co-presenter at the Law & Ethics Session for Section IV of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association, August 2011.
  • “Encouraging Sustainable Development at the Local Government Level,” co-presenter at the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association Annual Planning Conference, September 2010.
  • “Assessing Local Government Authority in the Wake of Recent Decisions Regarding Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances,” co-presenter at the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association Annual Planning Conference, September 2010.
  • “Inclusionary Zoning: Legal Obstacles and Alternatives,” co-presenter at the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association Annual Planning Conference, October 2009.

  • “Local Government Regulation of Electronic Gaming Operations,” Land Use Law Quarterly, July 2010.
  • “Lawmakers sweeten public-private deals,” co-author, Triangle Business Journal, August 2009.
  • “State has new tool for financing critical infrastructure needs,” co-author, Greater Wilmington Business Journal, October 2008.