Comprehensive Plan Amendment

Overview

The most recent Comprehensive Plan for Cochise County was adopted in 2015. There may be parcel-specific circumstances in which the 1975 Zoning District designations may not closely match the current land use of a parcel. There may also be a circumstance where the Comprehensive Plan land use designation for the area does not closely match the current zoning designation. In other cases, a property owner may seek a new zoning designation, or a rezoning, which is not permitted by the Comprehensive Plan land use designation, and a new land use designation would need to be approved to allow a rezoning. A list of allowable zoning districts for each Plan Designation can be found in Article 4 of the Zoning Regulations.

Lastly, there are circumstances where the community-at-large seeks an update to their community's land use designation and seeks new policies to guide current and future conservation and development or redevelopment goals and their vision for the future; these Plan amendments can be achieved through the adoption of Area Plans or Community Plans.

There are eight such Area Plans adopted as elements of the county-wide Comprehensive Plan. The following describes the procedures for amending any of the elements of the Comprehensive Plan. Amending the Comprehensive Plan is a very serious action and is not taken lightly by the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Board of Supervisors; the criteria for evaluating the amendment and the rationale for such must be very strong.

Justifying a Change to a Growth Area Designation

To change a Growth Category designation, by the expansion of an adjacent designation or to replace a whole area designation, the Applicant must establish evidence that vacant land in the nearby growth area has been used up. If the new area is not near an existing Growth Area, then the Applicant must justify why it is appropriate to change the existing growth patterns and how the new development will fit into the surrounding area... It also requires a demonstration that roads, utilities, and public services can be provided in the new Growth Area designation area.

Justifying a Change to a New Land Use Designation

To change the land use designation within a Growth Category area requires the Applicant to demonstrate that the character of the area is changing to that of the proposed designation. For example, if an Applicant wants to change a designation from Neighborhood Conservation to Enterprise, he or she must demonstrate that the areas as a whole are changing from residential to commercial, and can support non-residential activity without impacting adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Process

Comprehensive Plan amendments of land use map designations or Growth Category designations or Plan adoptions, amendments, or extensions may be initiated by the Planning and Zoning Commission, either upon the application of interested persons or upon its own motion. Amendments to countywide Plan policies may be initiated by the Commission. The County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, by State Statute, will review the entire Plan every ten years, or more frequently as needed.

If a private person or persons seeks to amend the Plan, they can submit the application to Amend the Comprehensive Plan. Please note that if the proposed amendment would result in an increase in the potential densities or intensities of uses for an area of two thousand (2,000) acres or more, the application can be accepted by the Planning and Zoning Department for consideration only from January 1 to the last business day in August of any year and all major amendments will be considered at a single public hearing by the Board of Supervisors in December.

Under normal circumstances (not a major amendment), the process takes about 10 weeks from the time the application is deemed complete. If extensive research is required, such as an in-depth environmental or traffic analysis, the review time could be extended if this information was not included with the application.

Public Input

Applicants of proposed amendments to the Plan are required to follow the Public Participation Process outlined in the Comprehensive Plan. It requires a pre-application meeting with County staff and completion of a Citizen Review Report prior to application submittal. Major amendments also require the Applicant to notify nearby cities, service providers, school and fire districts, nearby homeowner associations, among others, as well as place a legal ad at least one-eighth page in size as an advertisement in the official County newspaper and one local newspaper. 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 proposal.

After the public hearing on the subject is closed, the Commission votes to recommend approval, recommend approval with conditions, or recommend denial of the application to the Board of Supervisors, or may vote 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. If approved, the Plan amendment goes into effect 30 days after the Board's decision, and the Comprehensive Plan is revised accordingly.

Required Submittals

The process will not begin until the fees and all information needed to evaluate the Plan change are submitted.  The submittal deadline is, typically, 45 days before the date the Commission would consider the application.  Please note that acceptance of the application does not confer approval of the proposed Plan change. Please submit the following:

  • Additional information as needed, depending upon the nature and scale of the proposed amendment (traffic study, environmental assessment, water adequacy, and conservation plan).
  • Completed application form
  • Fees (PDF)
  • Letter of Authorization (if applicable)
  • Map for map amendments. View the Land Use Map Example (PDF).

Commission meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, beginning at 4:00 PM, located in the:
Board of Supervisors Hearing Room
Building G
1415 Melody Lane
Bisbee, AZ 85603

The Board of Supervisors meets every Tuesday morning, beginning at 9:00 AM, at the same location.