Posts Tagged ‘Maricopa County’

26th February
2009
written by JHiggins

Goldwater Institute Wins Victory on Behalf of Property Owners
County lifts moratorium that stripped property rights around Luke Air Force Base
 
Phoenix–In a clear victory for property owners in Arizona, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors today lifted a moratorium on building permits in neighborhoods surrounding Luke Air Force Base. The moratorium was the target of $20 million in legal claims filed by the Goldwater Institute on February 17 under protections provided by Prop 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act. 

“We applaud Maricopa County’s action,” said Carrie Ann Sitren, the Goldwater Institute attorney representing the affected property owners. “By repealing the moratorium, the county has returned valuable property rights not only to the owners who rightfully demanded compensation in the past week, but to all landowners surrounding Luke.”

In 2004 the Arizona Legislature passed a law requiring Maricopa County to implement a series of building and development restrictions on land surrounding Luke Air Force Base. The county believed the law was illegal and in 2008 took the state to court to have it thrown out. Pending an outcome in that lawsuit, the county issued a moratorium on building permits in the “Clear Zone” and other areas adjacent to the base. On Feb 9, 2009, Superior Court Judge Edward Burke ruled the 2004 state statute was legal, leaving questions about whether the county would continue to enforce the moratorium. 

The moratorium caused severe reductions in property values–95 percent for vacant lots that were already zoned for housing and 50 percent for lots with single-family homes already built–and has prevented homeowners from doing simple renovations. As a result the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation filed claims on behalf of more than 175 property owners under protections provided by Prop 207, which requires government to compensate property owners when it passes laws or rules that reduce property values.

Maricopa County issued a statement today stating, “Effective immediately, building permits can be granted if they meet all County requirements and are for uses permitted by state statute.”
The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

17th February
2009
written by JHiggins

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2009

Goldwater Institute Files $20 million in Prop 207 Claims against Maricopa County
Institute seeks compensation for homeowners whose property rights have been violated

Phoenix–The Goldwater Institute filed legal claims today against Maricopa County totaling $20 million on behalf of more than 175 property owners. The compensation claims were filed under provisions of Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, which requires government to compensate property owners when it passes laws or rules that reduce existing property values.

In 2004 the Arizona Legislature passed a law requiring Maricopa County to implement a series of building and development restrictions on land surrounding Luke Air Force Base. The county believes the law is illegal for a variety of reasons and in 2008 took the state to court to have it thrown out. Pending an outcome in that lawsuit, the county issued a moratorium on building permits in the “Clear Zone” and other areas adjacent to the base.

“While the Goldwater Institute strongly agrees with efforts to protect the base, it is unfair to ask a handful of homeowners to bear the cost,” said Carrie Ann Sitren, the Goldwater Institute attorney representing the property owners. “In any event, stopping homeowners from installing solar panels or a swimming pool doesn’t protect Luke.”

The moratorium has caused severe reductions in property values–95 percent for vacant lots that were already zoned for housing and 50 percent for lots with single-family homes already built–and has prevented homeowners from doing simple renovations.

Residents in restricted areas are being denied permits for maintenance and upkeep of their existing homes including the installation of pools, fences, and standard repairs on plumbing and electrical work. For example, Robert Landers, a six-year Air Force veteran, has been denied a permit to install a therapeutic spa his doctor prescribed as a precursor to surgery.

“The county is stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Ms. Sitren. “On one hand it’s being forced by the state to limit these people’s property rights, but on the other its moratorium is overly broad and unnecessary. The people of Arizona spoke loud and clear when they passed Prop 207 by a two-to-one margin in 2006. If the government takes away the value of someone’s property, the owner must be compensated.”

Filing a claim for compensation is the first step in a formal Prop 207 lawsuit. Today’s claims were filed with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. The county has 90 days to respond to the claims, and can either repeal the moratorium, grant waivers to property owners, or pay the requested compensation.

The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

4th February
2009
written by Land Lawyer

An interesting opinion came out in this weeks Inside Tucson Business. The guest editorial shares a unique perspective of how Tucson Water and Pima County Waste Water has created policies that perpetuate the large percentage of unincorporated areas in our region. Pima County has 36% of its population is unincorporated, Maricopa County has 6%. The loss in state shared revenues is costing our region dearly.

Tucson Water is refusing to add new water connections outside the Tucson city limits. The city is also considering raising water connection fees.

It is about time Tucson started paying attention to the relationship of its water utility and growth in the region.

Since the 1960s Tucson sought to monopolize water service in eastern Pima County as a water management effort. To that end, Tucson extended its water utility service throughout the Catalina Foothills and into the northwest. The result is more than 100,000 people living in those areas are getting water from Tucson, but refuse to be annexed into the city.

More people live in unincorporated areas of Pima County than live in such areas in Maricopa County, which has four times the population. Tucson’s water policies had a lot to do with that result.

This has a massive negative impact on state revenue-sharing for Tucson because  only incorporated cities and towns get the lion’s share of that money. Thus, the residents of the unincorporated areas of Pima County cost the region millions of dollars annually because they don’t want to be in a city or town.

Little of the population in Maricopa County lives outside the limits of a municipality. The primary reason for this is no city or town in Maricopa County would extend its water and sewer system service to new developments outside their incorporated limits without the development signing an annexation petition.

Maricopa County has a fraction of the budget liabilities for roads and police protection, compared to Pima County, which has to provide urban services to people outside city limits.

Tucson, on the other hand, extended its water service without the condition of annexation condition. It also turned over all of the sewer system to Pima County. In fact, Pima is the only county in Arizona providing sewer service and, as a result, tools were abandoned to insure urban residents were inside the incorporated limits.

Not surprisingly, we have seen a proliferation of new municiaplities around Tucson. Marana and Oro Valley have stepped up and are attempting to control water utility service in their jurisdictions. The town of Sahuarita already has its own sewer system, the only municipality in Pima County with one.

While Tucson has generally fought the incorporation of new towns and Pima County seeks to block towns having their own sewer systems, a fundamental change is needed in the region regarding water and sewer service.

1. Tucson needs to resolve its fight with the towns over water service, and get out of providing water in places like Marana. Let Marana go find the renewable water needed for its growth and charge appropriately for new connections. Tucson Water could then redirect its valuable resources to growth inside the Tucson city limits.

2. Let Marana have its own sewer system and if Oro Valley wants into the sewer utility business, let them have at it. Tucson ought to take back its sewer system as well. The cities and towns could hire Pima County to manage their sewer systems, but Pima County absolutely should not be allowed to control growth inside the incorporated limits of cities and towns via sewer system policies. This way, towns would have to establish fees to cover the cost of growth in their areas and the rest of Pima County would not have to subsidize their growth.

3. Tucson ought to negotiate “sphere of influence” agreements with surrounding towns delineating which jurisdiction has precedence for annexation. These “spheres of influence” should exactly match water and sewer service areas of the cities and towns.

These are the first steps to ending the wars that have been going on between Tucson and the surrounding area over water.

Contact Hugh Holub at HughHolub@msn.com. Holub, who has specialized in water issues, calls himself a semi-retired lawyer.

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