BISBEE — Though the Cochise County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial, the Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request of 4.43 acres from SR–43 (one single family residence per 43,000 square feet) to RU–4 (one single family home per four acres) during Tuesday’s meeting.
The owners, a Mr. and Mrs. Andasola, wanted to combine the lots to comply with regulations to utilize the owner-builder opt-out program on the land at the intersection of Cochise Stronghold Road and West Kelvin Street north of Sunsites.
Robert Kirschmann, county Planner II, explained the land was in an AO–1 floodplain, meaning the acreage would flood severely and pond. He said the owners had camped illegally and completed improvements that should have been permitted, such as allowing the installation of an electrical box (an accessory structure) to be installed without a primary use (a home).
He said rezoning the land would result in a spot zoning, which the county has tried to avoid.
Supervisors Tom Borer, Ann English and Peggy Judd saw combining the small lots into one as a plus for the county and the area.
English said, “I thought our intent was to encourage combining small parcels into large parcels. It seems to me the department has put a negative spin on the request because they want to use the owner-builder opt-out option.”
The owner-builder opt-out option allows landowners with four or more acres to build homes themselves with limited county inspections such as septic systems and setbacks.
The OBOO amendment allows an owner “to comply with the Cochise County Building Safety Code, but limit inspections. Such an Owner-Builder may, of course, also opt for compliance with the Cochise County Building Safety Code accompanied by full inspections. By allowing Owner-Builders these options, this amendment is intended to encourage the use of ingenuity and personal preferences of the Owner-Builder in allowing and facilitating the use of alternative building materials and methods.
“By statute, this exemption does not exempt Owner-Builders from statewide codes such as the plumbing and fire codes and regulations regarding smoke detectors, nor does it exempt owner-builders from fire codes adopted by fire districts or the County.”
English also pointed out there were many power boxes installed in flood zones in the county.
Judd, who represents the area, said she spoke with the Andasolas and their neighbors and found they had no problem with the rezoning.
“They’re just a couple trying to come into compliance,” she said. “I don’t think they’re trying to do things the wrong way. I think it’s a good thing.”
The supervisors also unanimously approved a second zoning request to take land zoned R–36 (one home per 36,000 square feet) to RU–4 as requested by Adam Husarek on 13.12 acres on East Lois Lane north of Douglas.
Husarek will be using the owner-builder opt-out option for building.
The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of this request.
The supervisors unanimously denied a rezoning request by three people who owned illegal lot splits off Charleston Road.
Kirschmann explained the three property owners involved requested to have the properties rezoned from RU–4 (one single family dwelling per four acres) to RU–2 (one single family home per two acres) after one property owner sought a building permit to add another structure, which led the county to discover the illegal splits.
He said the lots were purchased in the 1990s and in 2009. Though they received permits to build homes from the county, at the time the county had the property listed as eight acres, not separate parcels.
Neighbors voiced concerns and asked the supervisors to deny the rezoning requests, fearing the approval would set a precedent in the area that could open it up to intensive development.
Nearby property owner Ann Chandler said, “This should never have gone this far. There are five of us opposed to the rezoning.”
The supervisors have been committed to end spot zoning, so they denied the request and followed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation.