CARO, Mich. (AP) — A mediator has been appointed to try to settle a dispute between a wind-energy operator and township officials in Michigan's Thumb region.

A federal judge this week tapped Grand Rapids lawyer Bruce Neckers.

After four wind-energy critics were elected in 2016, Almer Township rejected a permit that could have cleared the way for 19 turbines in the Tuscola County community.

Tuscola Wind III is controlled by wind giant NextEra Energy Resources, which has 110 projects in the U.S. and Canada. It has three wind facilities in Michigan.

Tuscola Wind filed a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming Almer Township violated its rights by rejecting a land-use permit. The township board says it's concerned about excessive noise. It also says it wanted more information about the economic impact.