Recent Changes to the Zoning Regulations

Overview

Every parcel within the unincorporated areas of Cochise County has a zoning designation. The purpose of zoning is to guide the development of land in accordance with the County's Comprehensive Plan and to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the County's residents. Zoning districts specify permitted land uses, minimum lot sizes, and certain sites development standards such as setbacks, screening, and lighting.

Occasionally, staff recommends changes to the zoning regulations. These changes must receive approval from the Board of Supervisors. This page provides updates to recent changes to the zoning regulations, how these changes may impact Cochise residents and when these changes will go or have gone into effect.

Changes to the Light Pollution Regulations

As stated in Section 1601 of the Zoning Regulations, the purpose of the Light Pollution Regulations is:

  • To achieve effective and efficient lighting, while preserving the safety, security, and well-being of County residents and visitors.
  • To protect and enhance the lawful nighttime use and enjoyment of all property through the protection of and access to the dark night skies, and to encourage the conservation of energy and other resources
  • To specify and encourage lighting practices and systems that will minimize the adverse man-made light pollution effects of sky-glow, glare, and light trespass
  • To ensure that all signs installed in the County are compatible with the County's largely rural character, are in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, and ensure that no sign shall be brighter than is necessary for clear and adequate visibility.

All outdoor electrical illuminating devices must be installed in conformance with these requirements. Overall, the modifications included within this docket are intended to simplify the light pollution regulations, which benefit residents, home builders, as well as Cochise County Code Enforcement. This amendment was approved on May 5, 2020, and went into effect on June 5, 2020.

Effects

As a result of this amendment:

  • All permanently used lamp types must be shielded in residential uses. This does not include multiple household dwellings. Exceptions include seasonal decorations from Thanksgiving to January 15 and unshielded residential lighting if it is under a roof or porch overhang and the level of light trespass does not exceed a field-verified, light meter reading of 0.2 FC at the property line of a residential site or 0.5 FC at the property line of a non-residential site. Previously, the County allowed up to 2,000 lumens of unshielded light per acre of undeveloped site.
  • The residential lighting worksheet, which is included as a required submittal within the residential permit application packet, has been changed to reflect the new requirements. 
  • Residential Lighting Worksheet (PDF)