Arizona Zoning and Land Use Law

Property owners are sometimes surprised to discover that despite owning a piece of residential or commercial real estate, they are not free to do whatever they might want to do with their property. In addition to private agreements like homeowners' association covenants, conditions, and restrictions, most real estate is subject to some level of governmental oversight that restricts the use of the property. Zoning regulations and other land use restrictions can dramatically effect the value of real estate and owners and prospective purchasers of land should become familar with these restrictions before purchasing real estate or beginning any major work on property.

Overview of Zoning Laws and Land Use Regulations

Zoning laws and other statutes or ordinances may significantly or only slightly restrict the types of uses to which a parcel of real estate may be put. The most common and well known such laws are zoning regulations that designate certain property as being allowed to be developed for business use, residential use, or some combination or permutation of business and residential use. Other zoning alws may regulate agricultural development, the keeping of pets and livestock, construction of improvements such as fences, and the storage and parking of vehicles on the land or on the street.

Most jurisdictions do allow property owners to seek a variance from the zoning guidelines by application to the local zoning authority. Depending on the type of variance being sought or the liberality of the governing body, variances may be liberally granted or almost always denied.

Because zoning laws are very complicated and decisions of zoning authorities can have a devastating effect on a property owner, an experience zoning and land use attorney should be consulted before applying for a variance and as soon as any zoning problem becomes apparent.