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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in Arizona

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Tucson, Arizona are fairly perplexing, 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 typical 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 feasible by helping it prevent costly nuisance lawsuits.

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

You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or prevailing use of your property breaks Tucson, Arizona's zoning regulations.

First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very significant, and fixing it wouldn't cost very much, this is likely the best and simplest option.

However, it isn't always practical or affordable to correct a minor violation of a zoning law. For instance, suppose you have just spent a large amount of money and effort remodeling a house to turn it into your dream home. You thought you were in total compliance with local zoning laws when you did this, but find out that there is some small, technical violation of Tucson, Arizona's zoning laws. In these cases, you have recourse in the form of a variance. You are entitled to petition the local zoning board to grant you a variance, which is an official decision not to apply a certain provision of a zoning law to a single violation. These aren't always granted, but generally have to be granted if the violation doesn't interfere with anyone else's use of their property, and doesn't thwart the purposes of local zoning laws.

Also, if the zoning laws governing your property have changed, and some aspect of it is now violating the new rules, these changes can generally not be enforced against you, because it would be unfair to apply a new law retroactively.

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How Can a Tucson, Arizona Attorney Help?

If you are in the early stages of a major construction or remodeling project on your property, particularly if it is in a residential area (where zoning laws tend to be most restrictive), you are likely to encounter one zoning law issue or another. Of course, having read this article, you should now be aware that you have rights when it comes to contesting a zoning law as applied to you. While such contests do not always come out on the side of the landowner, the assistance of a reputable Tucson, Arizona real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.

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Life in Tucson

Tucson is a major city in Arizona and the county seat of Pima County.  With a population of about 548,000, it is the second largest city in Arizona after Phoenix.  Tucson is just over 100 miles from Phoenix and about an hour away from the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Often called "The Old Pueblo", Tucson is an attractive mix of traditional southwestern culture and modern innovations.  The downtown area of Tucson has retained much of its historic southwest feel.  Several downtown buildings such as the Hotel Congress and the Art Deco Fox Theater were constructed in the 1920's.  Midtown Tucson also draws many visitors to the city.  For example, the University of Arizona is located in midtown, which includes Arizona Stadium as well as the McKale Center. 

The tourism industry fuels much of Tucson's economy, with some 3.5 million visitors bringing in over $2 billion a year.  Tucson's warm climate attracts many "snowbirds", or winter visitors who often purchase a second home in the city.  Popular events for tourists include the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show and the Tucson Folk Festival.

Lawyers in Tucson, Arizona handle most of their cases at the Tucson City Court.  Tucson lawyers are available to help you understand the many laws that are unique to the state of Arizona. 

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