Commercial Zoning and Land Use in Arizona

Commercial Zoning and Land Use in Arizona

Zoning of a geographic area in Arizona is performed by city and county governments with the goal of maintaining the health, safety, and economic solvency of the community found there, and to control the rate of an area’s growth. The zoning ordinances and land use regulations applied to a given area govern the ways in which the land within it may be used, and may even regulate the appearance or size of buildings found there—including the building materials used to construct them, the distance buildings must be from the roads, and even the height or colors in which they may be rendered. Some of these zones are designated “commercial.”

Commercial zones are joined by other designations like residential, industrial, agricultural, and recreational. Residential zones are generally subdivided between multi-family and single-family areas. Industrial areas are those where manufacturing businesses may be located. Agricultural zones permit farming. Recreational zones are reserved for leisure activities and maintained free-spaces, like parks. And commercial zones are those where retail stores and offices are permitted to engage in business activities.

These zoning regulations can become remarkably complex. It is not uncommon for land use ordinances in any given municipal area to change as the make-up of the community around it continues to alter with the passing of time. But where a new zoning law is passed that suddenly places an existing tenant of a zone outside the law, that occupant can petition the municipal government for an exception. Businesses are often “grandfathered” in this way. But if that occupant then vacates the premises, a new occupant will not be automatically granted a variance, and may find themselves in violation of the land use law.

Someone considering purchasing a commercial space in order to conduct business of a kind very similar to the business performed there previously might be in for a nasty surprise if the area has been re-zoned. Sometimes the previous owners may even be unaware of this re-zoning, and as a result may not pass the information along. Therefore anyone purchasing land for commercial purposes needs to do their due diligence prior to closing on a property.

If you’re looking to buy commercial property in Mesa or anywhere else in the state of Arizona and want to be sure the property is properly zoned, call us to consult with an experienced attorney with strong scruples. At Provident Law, our real estate attorneys represent parties on either side of real estate and financing transactions, including landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, trustees, guarantors, shareholders, partners, and others. We structure, negotiate and document a variety of real estate and financing transactions, such as leases, purchase and sale agreements, loans and development agreements for a variety of commercial and residential projects. Contact us for more details.

Christopher J. Charles is the founder and Managing Partner of Provident Law ®. He is a State Bar Certified Real Estate Specialist and a former “Broker Hotline Attorney” for the Arizona Association of REALTORS ® (the “AAR”). Mr. Charles holds the AV ® Preeminent Rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He serves as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the AAR regarding real estate disputes; and he served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Jury Instructions Committee where he helped draft the Agency Instructions and the Residential Landlord/Tenant Eviction Jury Instructions.

Christopher is a licensed Real Estate Instructor and he teaches continuing education classes at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He can be reached at Chris@ProvidentLawyers.com or at 480-388-3343.