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New law hinders zoning protests

The Arizona legislature passed a real estate law last spring that will have one of the most impactful changes to land use in 10 years. The legislation adds numerous procedural requirements for neighbors formally making re-zoning objections to local governments. The law took effect in August and makes major changes to the rules concerning protest signatures. Proponents claim that is promotes business, growth and economic development and provides rules like county zoning laws.

Under the earlier law, a supermajority, 75 percent, of city council votes was needed to approve re-zoning if opponents obtained signatures from owners of 20 percent of neighboring properties on any one side of the site of the project. The new law now requires that re-zoning opponents obtain signatures from 20 percent of property owners on all sides of the project and from owners of 20 percent of all adjoining properties.

Land included in the potential protest area will, for the first time, include property that is proposed for re-zoning and any public right-of-way within 150 feet of that land. Also, the new law now requires that the number of votes needed to achieve a city council supermajority vote will be rounded up or down toward the nearest number instead of being rounded up.

The new law may ease re-zoning approval for a new Fry's supermarket that would be located two miles from Saguaro National Park East in Tucson. Changes to zoning will allow construction of a 99,918-square foot supermarket, two smaller stores and nine-pump service station.

Until it was approved, opponents of the store had gathered enough protest signatures to compel a supermajority, six council members, vote requirement for changes to zoning. Now, only five votes are needed to approve the proposed re-zoning.

The new law prohibits a supermajority vote if the property owner seeking re-zoning is the owner of over 80 percent of the land used for the calculation of protests. Neighbors objecting to the Fry's rezoning had 45.5 percent of the surrounding lots, but only 8.7 percent of all the total area.

Source: tuscson.com, "New Arizona law could ease OK for new Fry's on Tucson's east side," By Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, Nov. 22, 2017

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