TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sat, Sept. 21

County needs more zoning enforcement, chairman agrees

County officials plan to condense the county zoning ordinance so that it’s not so complicated for average citizens.

Development Services Director Ken Spedding said he also wants to see a one-page guide that explains the uses that the county allows in each type of zone.

He hopes to condense the zoning ordinance, revise the subdivision regulations and update the county’s general growth plan, all within a couple of years.

That’s all well and good, but it’s just an “academic exercise” if the county doesn’t enforce the laws, Verde Valley resident Doug Ayres told the county supervisors and planning commission during their quarterly joint study session.

Ayres detailed what he contended were four continuing violations the county hasn’t stopped in the Village of Oak Creek.

Ayres stirred Board of Supervisors Chairman Gheral Brownlow up enough to get him to say something he rarely utters: the county needs more employees.

“To enforce it, we’re going to have to hire people,” Brownlow said. “We’ll have to shake loose with some money. That’s the only solution.”

Brownlow asked Development Services Director Ken Spedding to attend the next supervisors study session, and bring along some ideas about what tools his department and the County Attorney’s Office need.

County officials also talked about use permits.

Spedding asked the supervisors and commissioners for direction about whether they prefer temporary use permits or zoning changes when someone wants to use his or her property for something the current zoning doesn’t allow.

If someone wants to build a commercial operation on residentially zoned land, it seems that a zoning change would be preferable, Spedding said.

“It can’t really revert back to its original use” when the use permit expires, Spedding said.

Some officials said they see the value in use permits for transition areas that might become too populated for business uses in the future.

But they also want to make sure those permits come with the proper restrictions.

“Very intelligent people basically swindled us,” Supervisor Chip Davis said, by getting use permits for businesses on residentially zoned land and then just selling the land for a handsome profit.

Permit restrictions can handle some issues, Deputy County Attorney Randy Schurr said. For example, the county can require the property owner to pull a building permit within a year after getting the use permit, or lose it. And the county can require the property owner to submit an architectural rendering of his plans, and then stick to it.

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