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Coconino County Arizona

Coconino County Community Development is seeking public comment on a new County Subdivision Ordinance draft.

Jess McNeely, Coconino County Community Development assistant director, said the department began working on the draft shortly after the Coconino County Board of Supervisors adopted an updated 10-year comprehensive plan in 2015.

“That updated comprehensive plan had a lot of great goals and policies, and it encourages conservation in areas in development,” McNeely said. “Because the zoning and subdivision ordinances are intended to be implementation tools of the comprehensive plan, it was the right time to start updates.”

The main updates to the 30-year-old subdivision ordinance included in the draft are conserving open spaces and protecting what the county defines as Environmentally Sensitive Features when developing new subdivisions.

McNeely said there’s a recent trend across the country when creating subdivisions that involves trading space for open spaces.

“Rather than taking a piece of property and dividing it up for the largest possible lots, they’re settling for smaller lots to create open spaces and trails for the community,” McNeely said.

The Environmentally Sensitive Features are elements in the landscape that play a particularly large role in supporting wildlife and plant diversity, and are, at the same time, especially sensitive to degradation. They include:

  • Floodplains
  • Riparian areas
  • Rivers and streams
  • Springs and seeps
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife corridors
  • Steep slopes
  • Large diameter trees and standing snags
  • Important habitats for endangered plant or animal species
  • Rock outcrops

If adopted, the ordinance would only apply to new developments in unincorporated county land. Existing subdivisions will not change.

Throughout its two-year creation, the draft had significant input from a citizen advisory group, local design professionals, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. 

And McNeely said everyone has been on board with the draft so far.

“There was a lot of community input when updating the comprehensive plan, so when the same values and concepts floated into the ordinance draft, everyone was on the same sheet of music,” he said.

Now, McNeely and his department want to hear from county residents, and area developers and engineers. 

“We feel as if the draft aligns with the values in the comprehensive plans, and we want to see if it aligns with the general community’s values,” he said. “We want to see if they think it’s practical and if it reflects the kind of area they want to live in.”

The public comment period will close at the end of October, and community development staff will host an open house to discuss the draft ordinance on Friday, Nov. 16 from 4-5 p.m. in the community development conference room at 2500 N. Fort Valley Road.

McNeely said the goal is to finalize the draft in early 2019, at which point public hearings will be held before the ordinance goes to the county board of supervisors for adoption.

To read the County Subdivision Ordinance draft and submit a comment, go to http://www.coconino.az.gov/622/Planning-and-Zoning.

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