Monday, April 23, 2007

Building Restrictions may Face Court Test

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Daily Star] -- Midtown neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arizona want the city to approve a controversial neighborhood-preservation zoning overlay to protect them from the "minidorms" invasion. But a group of property rights advocates in Tucson and statewide contend the overlay zone will be something else: a potential test case for Proposition 207, a ballot initiative passed last year requiring governments to compensate landowners if government land-use rules lower their property values. After continuing a public hearing on the neighborhood protection zone in March, the council will hold a study session on the issue. Final action is expected after a public hearing next week.

The consideration of a zoning overlay would begin if more than 25 percent of the property owners in a neighborhood petition for it. That would start a public process that includes several public hearings and a council vote. The neighborhood has to justify why it wants certain requirements on development, such as height restrictions and minimum yard sizes. But Richard Studwell, a property owner in the Jefferson Park Neighborhood, said those types of restrictions would not allow him to build guest houses on his properties, limit his properties to one-story and restrict the size of any house on his properties.
"All those are more restrictive things and they're taking value away from my property," Studwell said. Clint Bolick, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute, agreed, adding Tucson and the neighborhood protection zones "could be the first major Prop. 207 lawsuit." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]