Phoenix--In a clear victory for property owners in Arizona, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors today lifted a moratorium on building permits in neighborhoods surrounding Luke Air Force Base. The moratorium was the target of $20 million in legal claims filed by the Goldwater Institute on February 17 under protections provided by Prop 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act.
"We applaud Maricopa County's action," said Carrie Ann Sitren, the Goldwater Institute attorney representing the affected property owners. "By repealing the moratorium, the county has returned valuable property rights not only to the owners who rightfully demanded compensation in the past week, but to all landowners surrounding Luke."
In 2004 the Arizona Legislature passed a law requiring Maricopa County to implement a series of building and development restrictions on land surrounding Luke Air Force Base. The county believed the law was illegal and in 2008 took the state to court to have it thrown out. Pending an outcome in that lawsuit, the county issued a moratorium on building permits in the "Clear Zone" and other areas adjacent to the base. On Feb 9, 2009, Superior Court Judge Edward Burke ruled the 2004 state statute was legal, leaving questions about whether the county would continue to enforce the moratorium.
The moratorium caused severe reductions in property values--95 percent for vacant lots that were already zoned for housing and 50 percent for lots with single-family homes already built--and has prevented homeowners from doing simple renovations. As a result the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation filed claims on behalf of more than 175 property owners under protections provided by Prop 207, which requires government to compensate property owners when it passes laws or rules that reduce property values.
Maricopa County issued a statement today stating, "Effective immediately, building permits can be granted if they meet all County requirements and are for uses permitted by state statute."
The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.