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A Better Partnership

John V. Byl

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2149

    f. +1.616.752.2500


In his long career as an environmental and economic incentives lawyer, John Byl has developed the expertise and the contacts to bring redevelopment projects, compliance issues and other matters to successful conclusion. He even drafted brownfield and environmental clean-up laws in use in Michigan today. John is chair of the Michigan Chapter of the National Brownfield Association.


  • University of Michigan Law School J.D. 1983 cum laude
  • Hope College B.A. 1980 magna cum laude


  • 1983, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Environment, Energy & Resources Section
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Environmental Law Section Chair (2006-07)
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association


Economic Incentives

  • Drafted community revitalization legislation for the state of Michigan, which created the structure for the new brownfield program and other incentives

  • Represented the developer of a 500-acre mixed-use project in Benton Harbor, Mich.; the project included more than $150 million in brownfield incentives, making it the largest brownfield tax increment financing (TIF) project in the state to date

  • Secured more than $50 million in brownfield financial incentives for mixed use projects located in Detroit and Ann Arbor

  • Secured $20 million in brownfield, TIF and other tax credits for $200 million in development of the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids, Mich.

  • Secured $50 million in incentives for more than $400 million in new and rehabilitated construction projects for mixed-use, retail, office and residential space in downtown Grand Rapids

  • Secured over $10 million in incentives for the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, a public private partnership that includes extensive involvement of local and state government, private philanthropy and a private nonprofit developer

  • Secured $20 million in incentives for redevelopment of a 300-acre industrial site in Wixom

  • Helped Whirlpool secure incentives for new office complex in Benton Harbor

  • Assisted manufacturing clients with incentives for new manufacturing operations in Greenville and Coldwater


  • Drafted portions of Michigan’s primary environmental clean-up law (Part 201), as well as other environmental legislation and rule-making

  • Served as primary outside counsel for Cordova Chemical Company and Aerojet General Corporation in a landmark Superfund case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court (U.S. vs. Bestfoods) and resulted in a favorable conclusion for the clients

  • Assists companies in negotiating air enforcement matters at the state and federal levels

  • Serves as outside environmental counsel for Amway, Wolverine World Wide and others

  • Represents banks on loan workouts and other issues involving contaminated property

Honors & Awards

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2006-Present
  • Elected as a Fellow to the American College of Environmental Lawyers, 2021
  • Top Lawyer in Environmental Law, Grand Rapids Magazine, 2019-21
  • Best Lawyers'  2020 and 2011 Grand Rapids Environmental Lawyer of the Year
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2008-20
  • Listed in The International Who's Who of Environmental Lawyers, 2008-Present
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Leaders in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2012
  • Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers, 2008
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Kinney Award, granted to outstanding Senior in Business and/or Economics
  • Certificate of Merit in Writing and Advocacy



  • Author of numerous articles about environmental and economic incentive statutory and regulatory developments
  • Authored or edited chapters of several environmental books and treatises


Professional Affiliations

  • Land Conservancy of West Michigan
    Board of Directors (2015-Present)
  • West Michigan Air and Waste Management Association
    West Michigan Chapter Chair (2002-03); Board of Directors (1999-04)
  • National Brownfield Association
    Michigan Chapter Chair (February 2010-Present); Vice Chair of National Board (February 2011-Present)

Speaking Engagements

  • Frequent lecturer on a wide variety of environmental and economic incentive topics at state bar-related functions, state and local chamber activities, trade association meetings, privately sponsored seminars and other business group functions
  • 2016 Summer Conference & Annual Meeting, State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Real Property Law Section Conference, July 12-16, 2016, Boyne Falls, Michigan
  • "Finding and Securing Economic Development Incentives," Warner Norcross Webinar, April 30, 2014
  • “Financing the Cutting Edge,” Great Lakes High Performance Building Conference, June 6, 2013, Lansing, Michigan
  • “Re-Powering America’s Land:  Highlights of the EPA initiative to Develop Renewable Energy on Contaminated Sites,” Michigan Energy Forum, June 6, 2013, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • TIF Today:  Using Tax Increment Financing for Brownfields Redevelopment,” Brownfields 2013, May 17, 2013, Atlanta, Georgia
  • State Brownfield Programs:  What Works, What Doesn’t?” Brownfields 2013,  May 16, 2013, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2013 Michigan Brownfields Outlook and Training, Moderator, February 21, 2013, Lansing, Michigan
  • "The Legal Parameters Around Brownfield Redevelopment," Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center, August 27, 2012
  • "Amendments to Act 381 and Update on Community Revitalization Program," National Brownfield Association, August 2, 2012
  • "Brownfield and Historical Redevelopment is Still Alive After the Loss of Michigan Tax Credits," State Bar of Michigan, Real Property Section, July 20, 2012
  • "Community Revitalization Program and Other Tools to Achieve Sustainability," Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Chapter of National Brownfield Association, June 5, 2012

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