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Haines v. City of Phoenix

727 P.2d 339 (1986)

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Haines v. City of Phoenix

Arizona Court of Appeals

727 P.2d 339 (1986)


Arizona’s Urban Environment Management Act (the urban-management act) required municipal ordinances to be consistent with general plans, or comprehensive plans, for urban development. The act required a general plan to contain nine elements, including a land-use element. In 1979, The City of Phoenix (defendant) adopted two plans, the Phoenix Concept Plan 2000 and Interim 1985 Plan (collectively, the general plan). Both plans were incomplete with respect to the required elements. Notably, the general plan provided for commercial development in certain areas and encouraged open space. In 1983, the Adams Group (defendant) sought a height waiver for a high-rise-office project, so the Adams Group applied for an amendment to the zoning ordinance. The Adams Group’s proposed amendment would have permitted a building exceeding the then-existing 250-foot height limitation in the ordinance that applied to the Adams Group’s property. The 1985 plan contained the same 250-foot height limitation for the area in which the Adams Group’s property sat although the limitation was written in precatory language. The Adams Group’s application was heard by the planning commission, which recommended denial. The Adams Group requested a public hearing from the city council, and two hearings were held. Ultimately, the council approved the zoning amendment, or rezoning, without issuing any specific, written findings that the rezoning was in basic harmony with the 1985 plan. The rezoning allowed the Adams Group to construct a 500-foot building. If the Adams Group had desired, it could have built two 250-foot buildings absent the rezoning, which would have resulted in less open space. Subsequently, Randolph Haines (plaintiff) filed an action challenging the rezoning. Haines argued that the rezoning was inconsistent with the general or specific plan (i.e., the 1985 plan or 2000 plan). Phoenix argued that it had not adopted a general or specific plan by the time that the city council approved the rezoning, so only compliance with the zoning ordinance, which allowed height amendments, was required. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the city.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hathaway, C.J.)

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