Plan Administration

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The purpose of this section is to provide administrative direction, criteria and procedures for compliance with State Statutes, including Growing Smarter/Plus legislation, and a template for local code consistency. Further direction is provided for the General Plan amendment process in the Maricopa Zoning Code.

1. General Plan Adoption

In accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes (9-461.06-K), the Maricopa General Plan is effective for up to ten years. The General Plan can be updated or readopted at any time at the discretion of the City; however it must be updated or readopted within ten years from the date of adoption. As conditions change, including demographic shifts or the emergence of new economic trends, the General Plan will require a comprehensive update.

The Maricopa General Plan is adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of the City Council and ultimately ratified by the voters of the City of Maricopa at a general or special election in accordance with Arizona statutory requirements. At a minimum of every ten years, a new General Plan or the currently effective General Plan shall be submitted for adoption or re-adoption. Major amendments to the General Plan must also be approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the City Council as further detailed in the following Major Amendment subsection.

The process of General Plan adoption entails four key steps. The Plan is provided to outside agencies abutting or within the Planning Area, including but not limited to Pinal County Community Development, Maricopa County, Indian Communities, City of Goodyear, City of Casa Grande, the Central Arizona Association of Governments, Maricopa Association of Governments, State Department of Water Resources, and the State Commerce Authority (or designated planning agency for the state) for a review period of at least 60 days. The Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission reviews the General Plan at two or more public hearings at different locations within the City to promote citizen participation. Third, the Maricopa City Council also holds a public hearing for final public comment. Upon City Council approval, the General Plan is then ratified by the voters of the City of Maricopa. Also refer to Arizona Revised Statute requirements as they may change from time to time.

2. Relationship to Other Plans

Adopted interrelated plans are incorporated by reference into the General Plan and include such documents as the 2040 Vision Strategic Plan, Area Transportation Plan, Regional Connectivity Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Parks Trails and Open Space Master Plan, Redevelopment Area Plan, Development Impact Fee Study, Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), and other studies or plan updates adopted by the City Council from time to time.

The General Plan provides comprehensive direction across several Plan Elements. Existing and future, detailed functional “Plans” or “Master Plans” will serve to implement the General Plan, and are meant to be consistent and provide refinements for individual functions, disciplines or geographic areas of the Maricopa planning area.

All adopted Plans, codes and policies are intended to integrate with the General Plan. Where greater detail and direction is provided in these Plans, codes and policies, such directions shall prevail and will be followed.

3. General Plan Amendments

Frequent changes to the adopted General Plan are both ill-advised and, statutorily restricted. The General Plan was prepared with public input and analysis of existing conditions and community needs. Permitting multiple, uncoordinated alterations undermines the community’s investment in the planning process and is counter-productive to achieving the long term, agreed upon vision for Maricopa.

There are two types of General Plan Amendment, Major and Minor. A Major Amendment is a revision to the Maricopa General Plan text or Land Use Map that has far-reaching consequences on the use of land areas, demand on available infrastructure and/or substantially alters or is inconsistent with specified residential density or development intensity. A Minor Amendment is any other revision to the General Plan map or text that does not meet the criteria for a Major Amendment as explained below.

Major General Plan Amendment

General Plan Major Amendments are governed by Arizona Statutes, ARS 9-461.06. The statutes allow Major Amendments to the General Plan once per year. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall hold two public hearings on the Major Amendment(s) and the City Council shall hold one. A two-thirds vote by the City Council is required to approve a Major Amendment. Furthermore, the statute defines a General Plan Major Amendment as a substantial alteration of the municipality’s land use mixture or balance as established in the municipality’s General Plan land use element.

Planning Statutes require municipalities to define the criteria to be used in determining if a proposed plan amendment effects a substantial alteration of the municipality’s land use mixture or balance as established by the adopted General Plan.

Major Plan Amendments may be proposed to the Future Land Use Map and text of the General Plan.

a. Major Map Amendment

The determination, if a map amendment is a General Plan Major Map Amendment, are by two criteria. The criteria include land use and infrastructure.

Land Use Criteria

A Major Amendment to the Maricopa General Plan is any proposal that would result in a change of such significance as to impact substantial portions of the entire City and/or its Planning Area. Amendments are based upon the relative size, in land area, and extent of change proposed, in terms of development intensity (e.g. dwelling density), as well as its relationship with surrounding land uses and impact upon public infrastructure.

The following changes in land use designations within the city limits on the Future Land Use Plan require a Major Amendment to the City’s General Plan:

Table 1 - Major Plan Amendment Land Use Criteria within City Limits
Current Designation Proposed Designation Acres to Trigger a Major Amendment
Residential (Rural, LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC) Employment, Light Industrial, R&D 160
Residential (Rural, LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC) Commercial 80
Residential (Rural, LDR, MDR, MPC) More intense Residential Category (example: MDR to HDR) 80
Employment, Light Industrial, Research and Development Residential (LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC), Commercial 40
Mixed Use Any 40
Commercial Any Residential 40
Agriculture Residential (MDR, HDR, MPC) 80
Agriculture Commercial, Employment 40
Open Space Any 20
Any Land Use
(other than noted above)
Any Proposed Designation Total aggregate of 160 acres or more.
*Refer to Section II B1.d Land Use Plan for definition of terms.

This table (Table 1) represents the land use criteria for determining a major amendment for areas inside the city limits and is separate from the infrastructure criteria. If the above thresholds are not exceeded, or the proposed area of change is generally consistent and within an existing approved PAD Zoning Designation, the amendment to the General Plan is considered Minor and will be processed in accordance with the City’s procedures for a Minor Amendment (refer to Maricopa Zoning Code).

Table 2 - Major Plan Amendment Land Uses Criteria Outside of City Limits
Current Designation Proposed Designation Acres to Trigger a Major Amendment
Residential (Rural, LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC) Employment, Light Industrial 640
Residential (Rural, LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC) Commercial 160
Employment Residential (LDR, MDR, HDR, MPC), Commercial 160
Commercial Residential 80
Agriculture Any 640
Open Space Any 40
*Refer to Section II B1.d Land Use Plan for definition of terms.

The City has only an advisory role to Pinal County regarding planning and zoning decisions in the unincorporated portions of the planning area. Table 2 lists the Major Amendment criteria for areas outside the city limits and is intended to provide city staff with guidance for input to Pinal County when reviewing land use changes.

Infrastructure Criteria

Infrastructure is expanding at a record pace to keep up with residential development. Land use changes and amendments to the General Plan can have a range of impacts on public infrastructure. A General Plan amendment and rezoning request that would place significant cost burdens on regional, municipal or private utility systems may be considered a Major Amendment. That is, where available capacities or funded capital investments for expansion (such as roads, bridges and overpasses) are insufficient to support the proposed development, the applicant would be required to pay for necessary improvements. A Major Amendment would be called for if infrastructure needs are not demonstrated to be covered.

A Major Map Amendment will be required when infrastructure demands are not offset by private investment or extensions to public systems. This applies in cases where the proposed amendment does not meet the minimum acreage criteria in Table 1 to trigger a Major Amendment, and the proposed amendment does not offset infrastructure demands as determined by the Director of Development Services or their designee.

General Plan Major Map Amendment Process

The City of Maricopa, in accordance with Arizona State Statutes, will consider General Plan Major Map Amendments at a single public hearing during the calendar year the proposal is made.

Application for a General Plan Major Map Amendment will be in accordance with City policies and procedures. The City will provide the necessary forms and information and will process the amendment request.

Public participation is critical to the processing of a Major Map Amendment. A Public Participation Program, similar to the one applied to the General Plan process, will be followed to achieve a high level of citizen participation.

The following is the basic process for a General Plan Major Map Amendment:

  • Applicants will attend a pre-application meeting prior to submitting an application.
  • Applications will be accepted from January 1 to April 30 for processing within that calendar year.
  • At least sixty days before the Major Map Amendment is noticed for Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing the City will transmit the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council and submit a copy, for review and further comment, to Pinal County Community Development Department, Central Arizona Association of Governments, Maricopa Association of Governments, State Commerce Authority, Arizona Department of Water Resources (if a Water Resources Element is included), any other jurisdictions within one mile of the subject property, and anyone who requests it.
  • All Major Map Amendments require two Planning and Zoning Commission public hearings prior to the City Council public hearing.
  • City Council public hearings to consider Major Plan Map Amendments will occur between August 1 and December 31 within the calendar year the application was submitted.
  • State law requires a two-thirds majority vote by City Council to approve a Major Map Amendment.

b. Minor Map Amendment

General Plan Minor Map Amendments may be processed independently or concurrently with applications for rezoning subject to City policies and procedures. Minor Map Amendments are all General Plan map amendments not deemed as major using the land use and infrastructure criteria described above.

Application for a General Plan Minor Map Amendment will be in accordance with the Maricopa Zoning Code. The City will provide the necessary forms and information and will process the amendment request.

Public participation is critical to the processing of a Minor Map Amendment. A Public Participation Program, similar to the one applied to the General Plan process, will be followed to achieve a high level of citizen participation.

The following is the basic process for a General Plan Minor Map Amendment:

  • Applicants will attend a pre-application meeting prior to submitting an application.
  • Applications will be accepted and processed all year round regardless of calendar year the application is submitted.
  • Prescribed procedures as set forth in the Maricopa Zoning Code.

c. Text Amendment

Revisions to the General Plan text that help to clarify and implement the General Plan may occur from time to time. Any addition, deletions or change in text will be considered either Minor or Major Amendment based on the following table.

Table 3—Minor or Major Text Amendment Criteria

No Text Amendment Required Minor Text Amendment Major Text Amendment
Changes to correct scrivener’s error Changes to data, descriptive conditions Changes to goals or objectives
Changes to document format Changes to the vision or fundamental strategies Changes to development or procedural standards

The General Plan Major/Minor Text Amendment would be required to follow the same process as a General Plan Major/Minor Map Amendment, as prescribed in this section.

Plan Updates

In accordance with Arizona Statutes, ARS 9-461.06-K, the Maricopa General Plan is effective for up to ten years upon its adoption. The Plan can be re-adopted and/or updated at any time at the discretion of the City, in accordance with the Major/Minor Amendment Process herein. As conditions change and new data is made available including demographic, economic and housing data, the plan may require a comprehensive update.