What does an Arizona zoning and land use attorney do?


Here are a list of the Top 10 things that a zoning and entitlement lawyer might do. If you have real estate clients looking to get entitlements or zoning for their real estate project, this will hopefully be a handy resource.

1.  Help you rezone property.

When you acquire real property, it has a zoning designation (See City of Phoenix Zoning Map).  For example, the property might be zoned (R-1) residential and you might want to set up a commercial business (which in most cities and towns would require rezoning the property).  We can represent you in filing your zoning application and attending the various hearings that you will appear at (for example the presentation to the village, the planning and zoning commission and ultimately the city council in Phoenix).  There is a lot of work involved in rezoning property and you want an attorney who knows how to “build bridges” and work with the local neighbors to get your project approved.

2.  Help you with general plan amendments

Sometimes, the property is not zoned for the type of land use you want.  For example, the general plan of a city or town may allow only residential use in the area where you own your property.  You might want to create a resort, hotel, or put a restaurant on the land.  This may require seeking an amendment to the general plan (for a sample, click here to see the City of Phoenix general plan).  This will require significant work in trying to seek to permit your proposed use of the property.

3.  Help you obtain sign permits and sign entitlements

Many people think you can just stick a business sign up on your business or real property and start marketing your business.  It is not that simple.  If someone complains you could find yourself trying to defend your investment and possibly removing your signs.  The city of Phoenix for example, has its own sign ordinance and permit process just as most other cities and towns in Arizona do.

4.  Help you obtain liquor licenses

An Arizona zoning lawyer can also help you if your business is seeking to obtain a liquor license or if you are dealing with a liquor license violation or liquor license litigation.  Whether you are a restaurant, bar, tavern, pub, bar and grill, or sports bar looking for a liquor license, or dealing with the need to transfer a liquor license we can represent you during that process.  For more information on how to obtain a liquor license in the state of Arizona click here (Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control).  If you are opening a restaurant in Arizona, especially in the greater phoenix lawyer, a good restaurant lawyer would be a valuable part of your team.

5. Help you if you receiving a zoning ordinance violation notice

When a neighbor complains about your use of the land (“its not up to code” so goes the saying) you may find yourself dealing with a zoning ordinance complaint) from the code enforcement division of an Arizona City or town.  Sometimes, you may find that you have grandfathered land use rights or other defense to the complaint.  The City may want to come out and investigate your property and may seek to impose various fines on you.  This is another area where a zoning and land use lawyer can help evaluate your case and try to reach a fair and just resolution to your land use issue.

Some common types of neighbor disputes include failure to maintain yard; strange and bizarre uses of land; illegal signs, improper setbacks, unhealthy water conditions, junk vehicles and abandoned vehicles, graffiti and other land use nuisances.  Contact us if you have received a Notice of Zoning Ordinance violation from the code enforcement division and need to ascertain your legal rights.  You could be facing civil and possibly criminal liability in some cases.

6.  Appear before the board of adjustments in Arizona

The board of adjustments may hear a variety of different types of land use disputes.  For example, in Phoenix, the Board of Adjustment meets to review issues involving the zoning laws, variances, use permits and other issues including appeals from the zoning administrator.  These can be really big and significant cases affecting a large number of people.

7.  Help you if a law, rule or regulation unreasonably restricts your use and enjoyment of your property

In Arizona, a law was passed that basically states that if a land use rule, regulation or ordinance affects your use of your real property affecting the value then you may have a case for monetary compensation and attorney fees under Arizona proposition 207.  This is known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

Many cities and towns now have you sign a “prop 207 waiver” as part of the rezoning or land development process.  You may want to have an Arizona zoning lawyer review your case before signing such waivers of your legal rights.

8.  Represent you before zoning villages (village planning committees)

In Phoenix, the City is broken up into a series of “villages”.  For example the Deer Valley Village, North Mountain Village, and Camelback Village.  Click here to see the village planning committees in Phoenix.  After an application for rezoning is filed, the first step for your zoning project is to send notices to the local neighbors and see if there are any objections to your prposed use of the land or property.

As you will find, there are local neighborhood districts in Phoenix that organize for the purpose of promoting responsible growth.

These villages hold hearings to review your project and to see if the village reccomends your project, or is opposed to it.  We can represent you at these very important hearings that could pave the way for rezoning or provide a roadblock.

Here is a link to the various City Council districts in Phoenix

9.  Represent you before planning and zoning commission (P& Z as some call it)

As eluded to above, when seeking to develop a new residential or commercial real estate project in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Buckeye, Goodyear and surrounding areas, or when seeking to rezone real property you will take your project first to the city planners, then to the village where the property resides, and then to the planning and zoning commission and finally to the city council or town council for approval.  This is the general process, but may vary.  Again, many developers will want an established real estate zoning and land use firm to represent them at these hearings.

10.  Represent your interests in a wide variety of real estate related matters.

A phoenix arizona zoning attorney can help you with other types of real property and land use issues including eminent domain and condemnation matters, to predatory lending, financial elder abuse, mortgage fraud, quiet title, easements, title issues, real estate transactions including land acquisitions, CC&R’s, filing lis pendens, seeking injunctions, and other similar matters.

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