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What's an agricultural exemption?

Each county in a state generally maintains its own proprietary zoning laws, dictating various guidelines, restrictions and exceptions for the use of property within that county, and Maricopa is no different. Like many counties, Maricopa has a rigorous set of codes and standards that must be met by most kinds of land use or structures erected on a given parcel of land, but also extends exemptions from these regulations in some cases. This exemption is commonly known in our region as the agricultural exemption.

The agricultural exemption allows for land to be used without being subject to use regulations and safety codes, provided that it meets several requirements and the owner of the property in question goes through the proper channels to obtain an official certificate of exemption. The land in question must consist of at least five contiguous commercial acres and be primarily used for grazing or other agricultural purposes, or possibly mining or railroad passage.

The owner must apply for the exemption with the Maricopa Planning and Development Department, submitting plans for the use of the land and possibly other requested documentation. One of the primary advantages of an agricultural exemption is the freedom to build casual structures for limited use without needing to comply with cumbersome building codes. It should be noted that if a structure is built on an exempt property without complying to building codes, that structure may require renovations to meet building codes if the land loses its exemption status at a future date.

Zoning ordinances can present many frustrating setbacks, especially when they are not accounted for in the early stages of a real estate endeavor. If you are considering purchasing real estate of any kind, it is always wise to have a clear understanding of the zoning issues that a particular parcel of land may present. The assistance of an experienced attorney can help you navigate these difficult areas with confidence while avoiding potentially costly setbacks.

Source: Maricopa County, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Nov. 04, 2016

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