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Tuscon clashes with university over zoning issues

Zoning laws create many interesting challenges for every party who plans to build or expand a structure. Often, when we think of zoning issues, we envision a real estate developer fighting to build a certain number of units on a parcel, or a business working to expand while acknowledging the restrictions of the area where they are located. Recently, however, a much larger institution came under fire for threatening zoning laws.

The University of Arizona received a letter from the Tucson City Council regarding its plans to expand its housing capabilities by building a 1,000 person dormitory, which it hopes to have operational by 2018. The letter strongly recommended that the university abide by city zoning regulations as it moves forward with the project. Among other things, all parties hope to avoid losing time and resources in a replay of a conflict they already endured previously.

The university is working to build the dormitories with a student housing developer out of Texas who worked previously with the institution to build a structure very similar to the one currently under consideration. However, the first iteration of the project fell apart in the initial zoning process.

While nothing is set in stone, the city may have their hands tied when it comes to enforcing zoning laws if the university chooses to move ahead with their plans despite zoning conflicts. Because the university is technically a state-run entity, it is not technically bound to abide by the city's zoning regulations. However, if the university were to entirely disregard zoning, it may cause larger problems for itself with residents in the area where it plans to expand.

Whenever you wish to build a structure, it is always important to ensure that you are clear on the relevant zoning requirements. If you have zoning concerns about a project, feel free to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you identify and understand all the regulations that apply to your project.

Source: U.S. News, "Arizona Officials Urge University to Follow Zoning Laws," June 02, 2017

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