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What is a Phoenix Special Planning District?

Zoning regulations serve multiple purposes. One purpose is to organize real estate use. Zoning regulations may also be used to promote and encourage certain uses. The city of Phoenix has a zoning regulation regarding Special Planning Districts which are designed to promote the conservation and revitalization of neighborhoods, thereby fostering growth and development in the city.

The ordinance is designed to encourage developers and neighborhood residents to use lots, whether commercial real estate or residential, which may be vacant or under-used, by developing these parcels in an orderly and compatible fashion. A Special Planning District may be of help when there are incompatible uses within the same area, such as industrial property adjacent to residential or commercial property, to help rectify such zoning inconsistencies.

To utilize a Special Planning District, a special district plan, which involves a precise plan and set of regulations, must be adopted. The plan governs the specifics of development in the district, including width and yard requirements for lots, as well as building heights and regulations for particular uses of land and structures. Each Special Planning District must have its own specific special district plan.

Specific requirements exist for the creation of a Special Planning District. A petition must be submitted to the Planning and Development Department with the signatures of at least 50 percent of the property owners within the proposed district. Subsequently, a public hearing will be held and the Planning Commission will make a recommendation regarding the development of the Special Planning District. A plan for the district must be completed, and then distributed to the property owners and residents in the proposed district.

Special Planning Districts offer a way to promote and revitalize certain underused areas of the city of Phoenix, but property owners must adhere strictly to the ordinance. A property owner interested in pursuing a Special Planning District may wish to seek legal counsel for guidance regarding how best to proceed.

Source:, “City of Phoenix Zoning Ordinance Sec. 402 Area Plans,” accessed Dec. 18, 2015


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