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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Arizona

The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Surprise, Arizona are fairly complex, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.

"Zoning" is the process by which a local government makes laws determining how individual pieces of land within its jurisdiction can be used. Usually, towns or cities are segmented off into "zones," each one being designated for a specific type of use. Examples of common zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.

There are a lot of rationales and purposes for zoning laws. In general, they're based in common sense: chemical plants shouldn't be built next to daycare centers, pig farms should not be built in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and other simple principles similar to that. Zoning laws, by keeping conflicting land uses separate, make life easier for all parties, ensuring that property values will be preserved, and that necessary industries can be conducted where they will not bother anyone.

Zoning also serves the interests of industry, as well as residents. By ensuring that there are places where heavy industry can take place, well-planned zoning regulations will ensure that industrialists are free to practice their trade, and that residents will not be disturbed by those activities, which makes industry more proficient by helping it avoid costly nuisance lawsuits.

What if My Property Violates Surprise, Arizona's Zoning Laws?

You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or current use of your property violates Surprise, Arizona's zoning regulations.

First, and perhaps most obviously, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a significant burden, this might be the best way to go.

Of course, simply fixing a zoning violation isn't always affordable or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For example, you might have just undertaken a significant remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Surprise, Arizona's zoning laws. If this happens to you, you can apply to your local zoning board for what's known as a "variance." This is simply a decree by the zoning board that the particular rule your property violates no longer applies. The Supreme Court has held that local zoning boards have to grant variances when the violation is very minor, and enforcing the ordinance would be unduly burdensome and not in the public interest.

Additionally, if you have been living on your property for a long time, and made improvements on it that complied with the zoning laws in effect at the time, a new zoning law that would be violated by your current use of your property, the new law cannot be enforced against you. The U.S. Constitution bars the passage of "ex post facto," or retroactive, laws. Once the laws take effect, however, you'll have to comply with the new zoning laws with respect to any new improvements you want to make on your property.

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How Can a Surprise, Arizona Attorney Help?

If you are in the process of physically altering your property, you are almost certain to face some issues having to do with local zoning laws. If you find that zoning laws are making it very difficult to use your property as you see fit, you may have legal recourse, usually in the form of a variance. Of course, your chances of success in any zoning dispute will be immeasurably increased if you have the help of a qualified Surprise, Arizona attorney.

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Life in Surprise

Surprise is located in Maricopa County, Arizona.  Its population is one of the fastest-growing in the state- it went from 30,000 in the year 2000 up to 90,000 by the year 2007.  The city was founded in 1938 and was named after Surprise, Nebraska. 

Surprise is a popular destination for those seeking residential opportunities, in particular retirement homes.  In fact, much of the city's population growth can be attributed to Sun City Grand, which is a resort-like, age-restricted residential community.  The community is a large contributor to Surprise's population and economy.

Warm weather and modern sports facilities make Surprise an ideal location for those who love sports.  For example, the city maintains an outstanding Recreation Campus.  The Campus houses the Surprise Tennis and Racket Complex (STRC), which has received several awards.  STRC is often the site for important professional matches. 

If you have a legal claim, lawyers in Surprise, Arizona will usually file the claim at the Surprise Municipal Court.  The municipal court hears civil matters as well as criminal misdemeanor cases.  Surprise lawyers can provide you with advice or representation on a variety of legal issues. 

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