Get Familiar With the Most Common Land-Use Restrictions

Planning to develop land for commercial use in Arizona? Before you break ground on a great opportunity, it’s important to note that there are land-use restrictions that can impact your plans. It’s critical to have an intimate knowledge about land-use guidelines, so you can make informed decisions about your investments and avoid costly disputes. 

Here’s a brief overview of the most common land-use restrictions you may encounter, and how they affect development plans.

  • Zoning Regulations. Zoning regulations are one of the most important land-use restrictions developers should be aware of. These regulations dictate what types of activities and structures are allowed in each zone. For example, residential zones may only allow for single-family homes, while commercial zones may permit the construction of retail spaces and office buildings
  • Environmental Protection Regulations. In Arizona, there are many environmental protection regulations put in place to protect sensitive areas such as desert ecosystems, riparian zones, and wildlife habitats. Developers may be restricted from certain activities—like land clearing or grading—in these areas. It’s important to be aware of these restrictions and work with environmental experts to ensure that projects comply with these regulations.
  • Easements. Easements are legal agreements that grant specific rights to individuals or organizations over someone else’s property. They can restrict land use, like granting a utility company access to install and maintain power lines or a neighbor’s right to cross your land to reach their property. Easements may affect property development plans if they limit the area where you can build—or they can affect the use of a property after it’s developed. Before securing land, gather and understand detailed information about any easements that apply.
  • Setback Requirements. Setback requirements establish the minimum distance between a building or structure and the property boundaries or public infrastructure, such as roads. The purpose of setback requirements is to maintain open spaces, ensure privacy, and prevent congestion. For example, in Arizona, the setback requirements for residential properties are typically between five and twenty feet from the property lines, depending on the zoning district and property type. Property developers need to know the setback requirements relative to the plat they’re developing before improving it.
  • Height and Density Restrictions. Height and density restrictions are another critical aspect of land-use restrictions enforced in many areas. These restrictions aim to control population density, preserve scenic views, and maintain the character of the neighborhood or city. Some neighborhoods may have a height restriction that prohibits buildings taller than four stories to preserve the skyline’s views. You’ll find height and density restrictions in zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans. 
  • Subdivision Regulations. Arizona also has subdivision regulations that govern the division of land into smaller parcels for development. These regulations cover lot sizes, street design, infrastructure requirements, and other considerations for planned development. Complying with subdivision regulations can protect developer from legal and financial liabilities related to issues like poor infrastructure, environmental degradation, and public health risks.
  • Water Use Restrictions. Water is a scarce resource in Arizona and the greater Southwest, so water use restrictions and regulations are enforced to conserve water and prevent wastage. These restrictions can limit outdoor water usage, irrigation practices, and the use of water for specific purposes such as landscaping or recreational activities. Wise water use is essential for sustainable development in arid Arizona, so consider incorporating water conservation measures in your development plan.
  • Historic Preservation Restrictions. Historic preservation regulations protect and preserve historically significant buildings, districts, or landmarks. These restrictions may limit alterations or demolition of historic structures to maintain their cultural or architectural value. It’s important to work with preservation experts to ensure projects follow these regulations without compromising development goals.

Any property or land developer should be familiar with common land-use restrictions—they regulate what you can and can’t do with land when the time comes to improve it. These parameters are critical in establishing expectations from the outset.  

Need help navigating the complex field of land-use restrictions? Reach out to the experts at Sandbox Development. We’ll help you understand these restrictions, so you make better-informed decisions and avoid legal troubles that could hinder your project.