Zoning is one of the most common forms of regulation when it comes to land use. Municipalities, in coordination with the state, restrict the use of certain zones for property development. This is to have control over urban development, and also to make sure that green areas do not become over-developed.
Who has the right to use a piece of land, whether by private citizens or by the United States government, came back into the news recently. Several Arizona congressmen authored a letter petitioning the White House to remove the national monument designation from four different areas of the state, opening them up for many possible uses.
Zoning issues can become a flashpoint of community frustration, and must be handled carefully, especially when dealing in residential areas. Just such a community conflict is playing out in Flagstaff now, as city council members consider whether to allow development of affordable housing on a plot of land that many people think should be left alone.
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.
Zoning laws can cause great headaches if a landowner does not properly deal with them in a timely manner. Of course, in some cases, maintaining the right to do what you want with your own property is a fight in and of itself - even when you think you've prepared properly. This struggle recently came into focus for a Phoenix landowner after the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission moved to rezone a structure with a historic preservation zoning overlay.
One of the primary purposes of zoning laws is often protecting and preserving elements of nature that surround a community, They ensure that the short-term desires of the present are not upheld: to walk all over hundreds or thousands of years of natural resources for the sake of convenience or fleeting business interests. Our neighbors in Sedona are currently facing a tricky dilemma — many city officials and industry professionals say that the community needs to install a new water tank to meet the demands of living in a dry, demanding area. However, many residents of the area where the water tank would be installed don't want the tank disrupting their community, fearing that it will affect their home values, among other things.
Here in Arizona, and in many other parts of the country, access to water is far more complicated than you might expect. Especially because of it's relative scarcity compared to other parts of the country, the statutes that govern water resources and who may control them are very important, but often misunderstood or taken for granted.
Contrary zoning can easily make or break nearly any real estate venture. Recent news out of Kingman demonstrates just how complicated it can be to work with zoning boards to achieve a successful rezoning effort. A developer seeking to rezone an area to allow for more dense residential building withdrew a petition for rezoning after it became clear that the request would be denied. The primary issue seems to be the susceptibility to flooding in various parts of the parcel in question.
For landowners in America, acquiring your own slice of the American dream in the form of real estate is sadly not the end of the story. Under some circumstances, land you own may be forcefully taken away from you through "eminent domain" — but the process is not automatic, and you do have options if you know where to look. Like most legal processes, the sooner you seek qualified legal counsel and take action, the more room you may have to negotiate.
The Arizona State Court of Appeals handed down a ruling recently, instructing Phoenix officials that they could not refuse to grant marijuana dispensaries the necessary zoning to begin construction. While some attention was pointed to the fact that the dispensary in question for this particular case would be located in an unincorporated part of Sun City, the majority of the decision established that officials are not allowed to override state law that legalizes the medical use of marijuana with federal law that maintains that marijuana is illegal to distribute, possess or imbibe.