COCHISE COUNTY LAND CLEARING ORDINANCE

ORDINANCE NO. 00-030

(ADOPTED JULY 17, 2000)

 AN ORDINANCE OF THE COCHISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, CREATING AN APPROVAL PROCESS, AS DETAILED BY THIS ORDINANCE, FOR LAND CLEARING ACTIVITIES INVOLVING MORE THAN AN ACRE OF LAND.

SECTION 1.  BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

  1.  Section 11-251 of the Arizona Revised Statutes gives the County Board of Supervisors authority to adopt and enforce standards for excavation, landfill and grading to prevent unnecessary loss from erosion, flooding and landslides.
  2. Cochise County has adopted Zoning Regulations and ordinances, as permitted by law, to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents.
  3. In the past, clearing and grading have occurred prior to any review by the County for a specific use or structure, resulting in the loss of soil-stabilizing vegetation, eroding streambanks, landslides, wind-borne dust, and alterations of drainage patterns that impact neighboring properties.
  4. Applicants will be encouraged to use Best Management Practices as recommended in the Water-Wise Design: Developers’ Guidelines, and adopted by the Board of Supervisors in March 1999.
  5. The ordinance will serve as a mechanism for disclosure – apprising the County of development activities that may result from approved clearing.

SECTION 2.   DEFINITIONS

All definitions and terms herein will be in conformance with the Cochise County Zoning Regulations and shall include the following additional term:

Land Clearing   The act of removal, destruction or physical alteration of vegetation, soil and rocks by mechanical or chemical means, but does not include mowing, or normal cultivation associated with an agricultural operation.

SECTION 3.  APPROVAL REQUIREMENTS

Any activity that includes the clearing of more than one acre of land and which is not exempt by this Ordinance, shall be required to have a Clearing Permit from the County.  If the proposed clearing of more than one acre of land is for the purposes of a legal subdivision, then a Clearing Permit may only be granted upon approval of the tentative plat by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

SECTION 4.  APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

1. Applicants proposing to erect, construct, reconstruct, alter or use any structure or building that involves the clearing of more than one acre of land and which are not otherwise exempt by this Ordinance, shall be required to submit the following information in addition to all other Cochise County Joint Permit Application requirements:

  • Area of parcel to be cleared shown on site plan;
  • Amount of land to be cleared (in acres);
  • Purpose of clearing; and
  • Proposed dust and erosion control measures.

2.  Any activity that involves the clearing of more than one acre of land, but does not propose to erect, construct, reconstruct, alter or use any structure or building, shall be required to submit a Cochise County Joint Permit Application, with the appropriate fee and the following additional information:

  • A site plan showing area of parcel to be cleared;
  • Amount of land to be cleared (in acres);
  • Purpose of clearing; and
  • Proposed dust and erosion control measures.

3.  Permit processing and approval will include a review of compliance with the application requirements described herein and specification of the dust and erosion control measures to be implemented by the applicant. If it is determined that the dust and erosion measures either proposed or implemented by the applicant do not satisfy the general provisions described in Section 5 below, the County reserves the right to place additional requirements on the Clearing Permit to rectify such deficiencies.

Following approval of a permit for clearing, all sites shall be subject to inspection for compliance with this Ordinance.

SECTION  5.  GENERAL PROVISIONS

The following provisions will apply to all clearing governed by this Ordinance:

1. Dust Control

During clearing, and until revegetation or stabilization has taken place, dust shall be minimized through the application of generally acceptable dust suppressants. Water, although generally accepted, is not preferred.  Unacceptable dust controls are those that would have an adverse effect on human, animal or plant life, or cause property damage.

2.Erosion Control

During land clearing, and until revegetation or stabilization has taken place, erosion shall be minimized through the application of acceptable best management practices.  Unacceptable clearing practices and erosion control measures are those that alter existing drainage patterns and/or cause property damage off-site.

3.Floodplain Regulations and Diversions

Arizona Revised Statutes 48-3615A prohibit any activity that will divert, retard or obstruct the flow of waters in a watercourse if it creates a hazard to life or property, without securing written approval from the County Highway and Floodplain Department, as required by ARS §48-3613.  Nothing in this Ordinance alters the Flood Control District laws and regulations.

SECTION 6.   EXEMPTIONS

The following categories of uses are exempt from the provisions of this ordinance:

  1. Clearing of one acre or less of land for residential and non-residential purposes.
  2. Clearing of land for agricultural purposes, mining and other uses exempted by ARS §11-830;
  3. Clearing for the maintenance of existing roads, private access easements, driveways, and utility easements on ground that was disturbed prior to the effective date of this Ordinance;
  4. Clearing for new public utilities exempted by Article 20 of the Cochise County Zoning Regulations.

SECTION 7.  ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIATION

1. Violations Deemed a Nuisance

Any grading or clearing contrary to the provisions of this ordinance is unlawful and constitutes a public nuisance.

2. Action to Enforce Ordinance

For any violation of this Ordinance, the County Attorney may, and upon order of the Board of Supervisors, shall commence all necessary actions or proceedings to enforce the provisions of this Ordinance including, but not limited to, actions to abate, enjoin or restore the property in question.

3. Remedies 

All remedies concerning this Ordinance shall be cumulative and not exclusive.  Conviction and punishment of any person hereunder shall not relieve such persons from the responsibility of correcting prohibited conditions and shall not prevent the enforced correction or remediation thereof.  In addition to the other remedies provided herein, any adjacent or neighboring property owner specially damaged by the violation of any provision of this Ordinance may institute, in addition to any other appropriate remedy or proceeding an action for injunction, mandamus, or proceeding to prevent, abate or restore such unlawful clearing.

4. Penalties 

  1. Any person, firm or corporation whether as principal, owner, agent, tenant, employee or otherwise, who violates any provisions of this Ordinance or who violates or fails to comply with any order or regulation made hereunder shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable as provided for Class 1 Misdemeanors by Arizona Revised Statutes.  Such person, firm or corporation shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each and every day during which such violation or failure to comply with this Ordinance is committed, continued, or permitted.
  2. Paragraph “a” notwithstanding, each violation of this Ordinance or failure to comply with any order or regulation hereunder may be processed by the Zoning Inspector as a violation subject to a civil penalty as provided by Arizona Revised Statutes, §11-808, and heard by a duly appointed hearing officer, pursuant to the written rules of procedure for such hearings, as approved by the Board of Supervisors.
  3. Upon a finding of responsibility for a violation of this Ordinance, the penalty shall be set by the hearing officer and shall be not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than the maximum allowed by the A.R.S. for a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  4.   The hearing officer shall establish as part of the Order that, should the corrections not be made within the time frame prescribed, the fine shall automatically increase to the maximum allowed by the A.R.S. for a Class 1 Misdemeanor and that an accruing penalty of up to Fifty Dollars ($50.00) per day shall be imposed as of the date set for compliance with the Order and continuing until such time as the violation is abated, corrected or removed.

SECTION 7.  FEES

A fee of $50 dollars will be charged for the review and approval of a Clearing Permit.  No additional fees will be charged if approval for clearing is in conjunction with a building/use permit for residential uses, non-residential uses or associated accessory uses, or an approved tentative plat, as described in this Ordinance.

 

RESOLUTION  no. 00-

LAND CLEARING AMENDMENTS

(Docket R-00-2)

A RESOLUTION OF THE COCHISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AMENDING THE COCHISE COUNTY ZONING REGULATIONS ARTICLE 17 AND ARTICLE 18,  BY ADDING AN ADDITIONAL SITE DEVELOPMENT STANDARD THAT INCORPORATES BY REFERENCE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE COCHISE COUNTY LAND CLEARING ORDINANCE, AS APPLICABLE TO CERTAIN LAND CLEARING ACTIVITIES FOR RESIDENTIAL AND NON-RESIDENTIAL USES.

Whereas, Section 802 of Article 11 of the Arizona Revised Statutes gives the County Board of Supervisors the authority to adopt Zoning Regulations to conserve and promote the public health, safety, convenience and general welfare; and

Whereas, the San Pedro Joint Task Force, formed through an Intergovernmental Agreement in 1998, reviewed numerous presentations and recommendations by individuals and agencies regarding water conservation tools and practices that would benefit the general welfare of the public by conserving natural resources; and

Whereas, the San Pedro Joint Task Force developed an Action Plan that included a recommendation for the adoption of a grading ordinance to address dust, erosion and run-off concerns; and

Whereas, an approval process for land clearing activities would help to conserve the County’s natural resources, control accelerated run-off and prevent erosion.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF COCHISE COUNTY ARIZONA, THAT THE COCHISE COUNTY ZONING REGULATIONS ARE HEREBY AMENDED AS FOLLOWS:

1.  The Cochise County Zoning Regulations, Articles 17 and 18, are hereby amended as follows:

                       ARTICLE 17

1704.02  It is unlawful to erect, construct, reconstruct, maintain, clear, or use any land in any zoning district in violation of any regulation or any provision or this or any ordinance thereto and any such violation constitutes a public nuisance. 

ARTICLE 18

1819    Land Clearing

Any clearing of land for residential and non-residential purposes unless otherwise exempted shall be in compliance with the requirements of the Cochise County Land Clearing Ordinance (Ordinance 00-30).

PASSED AND ADOPTED THIS _______DAY OF _____, 2000

 

 

_______________________________________________

Mike Palmer, Chairman

Cochise County Board of Supervisors

 

ATTEST:                                                         APPROVED AS TO FORM:

 

 

___________________________                  ________________________________

Nadine Parkhurst                                              John MacKinnon

Clerk of the Board                                            Deputy County Attorney

 

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