Accessory Living Quarters (ALQ) is defined in the Cochise County Zoning Regulations as an attached or detached structure (including detached bedrooms) that is used either as a guesthouse or as quarters for the ill, elderly or disabled, or their caretaker(s). Accessory Living Quarters must be incidental and subordinate in size (including all garages, porches, etc), impact, and purpose to a principal dwelling.

Detached Accessory Living Quarters are limited to one kitchen per unit.

Except for parcels zoned Rural, in the absence of a Special Use permit, the Accessory Living Quarters shall not have a separate address or separate utility meters.  In the absence of a Special Use permit, the Accessory Living Quarters shall not be rented separately from the main residence, nor used for commercial purposes other than a Home Occupation, and is not intended for sale separately from the main residence.

There shall be no more than one Accessory Living Quarters per lot or parcel.  Recreational vehicles, other than park models, shall not be permitted as Accessory Living Quarters in any Zoning District.  Manufactured homes, rehabilitated mobile homes, mobile homes with the State Office of Manufactured Housing Rehabilitation Insignia of Approval and park models may be permitted as Accessory Living Quarters in those Zoning Districts that allow mobile homes and manufactured homes as permitted structures.

Guesthouse – Accessory living quarters that provide temporary accommodations for guests of the principal household.  A guesthouse may include a kitchen as long as the kitchen is on the same utility meters as the principal dwelling, except for parcels zoned Rural.  A Special Use authorization requiring a public hearing is required for kitchens with separate utility meters.

Quarters for the Ill, Elderly or Disabled – Accessory living quarters used by an ill, elderly or disabled person in need of special care or supervision; or a care provider for any such person if the person in need of such care is a resident on the site. Accessory living quarters for the ill, elderly or disabled, or their caretaker, may include a kitchen.

To qualify as an accessory living quarters, the structure must meet the definition above and:

  • Be on a property with an existing home;

  • Meet all site development standards such as setbacks from the property boundaries; and

  • Be zoned RU, or R-36, or SM-36, 87,174, 10-acres, 18-acres or 36-acres, or SR-43, 87,174, 10-acres, 18-acres or 36-acres.

How an Accessory Living Quarters Application is Processed

  • Property owners within 300 feet of your property are notified of the application by mail.
  • They are given 15 days from the date of the mailing of the notice (postmarked date of envelope) to file a written protest.
  • This notification will include the application and a site plan showing existing buildings and the proposed accessory living quarter's structure. It will also describe the procedure for appealing the request.
  • If no protest is received, the Accessory Living Quarters meets the size limitation, and all site development standards are met, the Zoning Inspector will issue the permit in the manner of a residential building permit.
  • If a protest is received and/or if the Accessory Living Quarters is requested to exceed 70% of the size of the principal dwelling (and is not greater than 850 square feet), then the application will be processed as a Special Use permit.  The Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing will consider the Special Use permit.  It usually takes 8 weeks to process a Special Use permit.  The fee is $300.  See Special Uses for more information.
  • Prior to issuance of a permit for an Accessory Living Quarters, the applicant shall sign and the Zoning Inspector shall record a notice that specifically identifies the location of the structure on the property, indicate that the subject structure is an accessory living quarters, and state that the property owner or tenant has agreed to comply with all County Zoning Regulations applicable to accessory living quarters.

Informing your Neighbors
It is highly recommended that you visit or write your neighboring property owners and explain what you want to do before the Planning Department sends out the official notice. Sometimes a simple explanation will help them understand the request and prevent them from objecting. The Planning Department can assist in obtaining addresses.

Required Submittals

  • Accessory Living Quarters Application
  • Joint Permit Application
  • Building Permit Fee.
  • A complete site plan: See handout on how to draw a residential site plan
  • Proof of Valid Contractor's Form

The process will not begin until fees and all information needed to process the Accessory Living Quarters Application are submitted.  It is recommended that you contact the County Planning Department prior to permit application submittal.