Master development plans (MDPs) are a useful tool for both developers and County planners to reach consensus and agreement about the way an area is developed, where a variety of uses and impacts may be proposed on one property.  They differ from site plans in that they address the bigger picture, rather than the minutia of a detailed site plan.  An MDP should depict the larger planning issues such as basic densities, open space, access, internal circulation, water use, topography, drainage, access, and the general location of uses, while giving the developer some leeway to address building placement, driveways, number of parking spaces further along at the building permit stage should an applicant’s MDP be approved.

Approved MDPs are considered amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, like a new growth area and its subsequent designations (see Amend the Comprehensive Plan).  Any proposed zoning districts or special uses within a master development plan area must be in conformance with that plan. Specific zoning districts within the proposed area may be requested and processed simultaneously. (See Rezoning Property)

When is a Master Development Plan Required?

A Master Development Plan is required when one or more of the following is proposed:

  1. This does not include amendments initiated by the Planning Commission;
  2. A proposed zoning amendment for 10 acres or more, if the amendment includes multiple zoning districts and a mixture of new residential and non-residential zoning districts;
  3. A proposed zoning amendment that includes a Planned Development (PD) Zoning District.
  4. A proposed rezoning to Heavy Industry (HI) in a Category D area that has the potential to include more than one principal use; or
  5. This does not include major amendments initiated by the Planning Commission.

What is the Process?

The approval of a Master Development Plan requires public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Supervisors—the same process as amending the Comprehensive Plan with a change in growth category or designation.

How Long Does the Process Take?

The time needed to process a MDP varies, depending on the complexity and scale of the proposal. Most other Comprehensive Plan amendment requests can be processed in about 10 weeks.  However, MDPs require more review and analysis.  Generally, an MDP may be processed in about 3 months or less, from the time of submittal.  Please note that a considerable amount of time may be required of an applicant prior to submittal for the preparation of an MDP, a pre-application meeting with planning staff, and public participation.

Public Input

Prior to submitting an application for a Master Development Plan, potential applicants are required to have a pre-application meeting with Planning staff to discuss their proposal as well as go over the Public Participation requirements - a process to notify neighbors of the proposal, required of applicants before they submit their application. (See Citizen's Review Process for details on the Public Participation requirements.)

Once an application is submitted, property owners within 300 feet of the site (1500 feet in Rural areas) are notified of the proposed MDP by the Planning Department. If the MDP simultaneously proposes a Heavy Industry zoning district or intensive use, such as an airstrip, shooting range or power plant, then the notification is extended to one mile from the proposed site.  A legal notice is placed in the local newspaper and posted on the property at least 15 days before the Commission meeting.  A public hearing will be held by the Planning and Zoning Commission to accept input from people who support, oppose or simply have questions about the project.  After the hearing is closed, the Commission votes to recommend approval, to recommend approval with conditions, recommend disapproval to the Board of Supervisors or to table the request.  If it is not tabled by the Commission, then the request goes to the Board of Supervisors, in another public hearing, for a final decision.

What are the Submittal Requirements for a Master Development Plan?

Applicants must submit a master development plan map, drawn at a scale of either 50, 100, or 200 feet to one inch, or at a scale approved by the Zoning Inspector, and including information such as boundary lines, adjacent zoning, drainage, circulation, proposed improvements, general topography, size and location of categories of uses an densities, locations of existing and proposed structures, general location of utilities and others.

In addition, applicants must submit supporting documentation regarding traffic, screening, open space provisions, water supply, population projections, phasing of the project, as well as a public participation report.  For a complete list of requirements, please refer to Article 4 of the Zoning Regulations.

A fee of $500 is also required at the time of submittal.

Commission meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 4:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Bisbee, 1415 Melody Lane, Building G.  The Board of Supervisors meet every Tuesday of the month (except the 5th Tuesday) at 9:00 am at the same location.  Pre-application meetings with Planning Department staff can be arranged at a time convenient to all parties concerned. At a minimum, applicants should be able to provide a draft concept of the proposed master development plan and public participation process at the pre-application meeting.

 Amend the Comprehensive Plan

 Rezoning Property