Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels said he can’t find any instance in which a Sedona-initiated bill has made its way through the state legislature and onto the governor’s desk for signing.
That is until now. Earlier this week, House Bill 2116 had its final reading and passed in the House by a vote of 59-0. The bill was introduced by Rep. Bob Thorpe [RDistrict 6] and co-sponsored by Rep. Brenda Barton [R-District 6].
It came at the request of the city of Sedona to clarify the zoning area within which property owners adjacent to an area subject to a rezoning application may protest. An amendment will be offered in the Senate which will include the subject property in the definition of a zoning area. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law on Wednesday, May 10.
This issue came up during the CVS project in Sedona in which a rarely used supermajority vote came into play in regard to the rezoning of the property. In that, six of the seven council members had to be in favor of the zone change for the project to be approved.
“It was a victory for Sedona and we appreciate the efforts by the council in approving the proposal, Councilman [Jon] Thompson for presenting the proposal to League of Cities and Towns, Rep. Thorpe for sponsoring the bill and the League of Cities and Towns for advocating for it,” Pickels told City Council on Tuesday, May 9. “It was a real group effort and I’m glad to see that it made it to that final stage [governor’s desk].”
Pickels said HB 2116 was proposed following some confusion that existed when the CVS rezoning occurred. There were differing interpretations of the statute which identifies who, precisely, may protest a rezoning application.
“The statute described certain directional and measurement criteria for the boundaries within which neighboring property owners could protest, but it was vague and subject to different interpretation,” he said Wednesday.
He went on to say the idea then was to clarify specifically what the boundaries were within which individuals had a right to protest. The city and county attorneys suggested that the companion statute applicable to counties was a much simpler, more straightforward way to define the protest area.
That resulted in unifying both the city and county statutes by deferring to the county language. While there was no opposition to the bill, there were some clarifications that resulted in an amendment of the bill in the Senate.
“This was a comparatively minor piece of legislation,” Thompson said Wednesday. “It didn’t change things so much as it clarified what was very likely the original intent of the existing law. But the experience was important. It showed how we can get things done by working with the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and with our state representatives. I’m hopeful we can use that experience to achieve much greater things in the future.”