Town opposes zoning bill moving through AZ legislature

A proposed municipal zoning bill under consideration in the Arizona State Legislature will harm cities and towns across the state, and the Town of Fountain Hills opposes it.

In a letter to legislators Mayor Ginny Dickey said House Bill 2674 would establish “by right housing” with no obligation to make them affordable. This means, for example, in the General Plan, multi-family developments would be allowed “by right” in any existing agricultural district, single-family residential neighborhood, commercial district, and all districts supporting single-family dwellings, commercial uses, or mixed uses.

Multi-family developers could ignore zoning ordinances, design standards, and adopted building codes. Multi-family projects would be approved administratively with no public process. This could include multifamily buildings up to 75 feet in some areas. Residents would have zero notice and no opportunity to learn about the project or provide comments. No rezoning or General Plan amendment would be required. The bill would also remove planning commissions from the process and strip local councils of their zoning authority.

“There are ramifications to water supply and waste-water treatment capacity as well as the more apparent effects this will have on residents and businesses,” said Dickey. “We recently enacted a new practice to increase citizen involvement in our planning, and this law would remove them, and P&Z and the Council, from the process completely.”

House Bill 2674 Municipal Zoning; by Right Housing, sponsored by Representatives Steve Kaiser (R-Phoenix) and Cesar Chavez (D-Phoenix).

“Please do not prevent our ability to make local decisions on these matters,” Dickey wrote to State Legislators. “We recognize the importance of having a variety of available housing, but this bill narrows the cause to municipal zoning rather than the many other factors including building supply shortages and costs, short term rentals, investors buying up property with no inspections and with cash, and not enough workers at this time.”

A press release from the Town states that HB2674 will have the following negative and generational impacts on development in Fountain Hills:

*Eliminate single-family zoning.

*Eliminate the citizen review process for residential and multi-family developments.

*Prohibit all zoning district regulations that restrict housing.

*Provide residential developers special treatment and the right to ignore local requirements such as setbacks, maximum heights, and requirements regarding building materials, exteriors, roofs, patios, garages, landscaping, common areas, open space, parking, and architectural elements.

*Prohibit planning commissions from reviewing housing projects, getting community input, and providing recommendations to local councils.

*Disrupt state or municipal economic development plans by converting commercial zoned property for economic development for by-right housing without regard for the carefully coordinated economic development plans.

Representative John Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills resident and former council member called the bill the most serious threat to the community’s property values and lifestyle that he had seen in all of his 16 years in the legislature.

Chavez withdrew the bill from a committee hearing and placed it on indefinite hold while more input is gathered from stakeholders.

The Times will have more on this story in its

Wednesday, Feb. 16 print edition.


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