Mohave County’s review of Agricultural Exemptions was continued by the Board of Supervisors at their August 1, 2016 meeting for a 45-day period. Agricultural Exemptions, handled by Development Services, exempts the property owner from obtaining planning permissions or building permits for agricultural activities conducted on the property.
Authority is embedded in state statute and provides exemptions for owners of 5 commercial acres or more of property that engage in agricultural activities.
Counties can establish reasonable rules and procedures for issuing exemptions. In Mohave County, obtaining an Agricultural Exemption for the purpose of getting an exemption from building and zoning permit requirements involves submitting an affidavit to Development Services and noting which qualifying agricultural activities the property owner is doing.
No follow-up is conducted to verify that the qualifying activities are occurring.
The Board of Supervisors requested a report on how other Arizona counties handle these exemptions. Unlike Mohave County, most counties require that the County Assessor issue an agricultural class code before the county considers issuing an agricultural exemption for the purpose of getting an exemption from building and zoning permit requirements. The Board is considering adopting the process currently used by most Arizona Counties.
The revised process would require that an agricultural class code be obtained, first, from the County Assessor. For those properties that received exemptions in the past, the owners would have one year to obtain the necessary class code.
While some properties may lose their exemptions in the coming year, the buildings built under the current exemption will be grandfathered and will remain exempt from the requirement of obtaining a building permit. The proposed cost for the exemption of a property would be a one-time $250 fee.
Under the new rules and procedures the Board will also be considering a new type of Exemption Permit to accommodate the needs of citizens leading a rural lifestyle who would not qualify for building permit exemptions. This permit would be available to any property owner without considering or inspecting whether they engage in agricultural activities or not.
The Exemption Permit would exempt the property owner from building inspections and would be available to citizens owning 5 acres or more at a cost of $50 per building. Once obtained, the permit would exempt a specific non-habitable building from building permit requirements as long as the building met specific criteria:
1) the building would not be occupied by any person;
2) the building’s walls did not exceed 10-ft in height;
3) the building was setback from any property line a minimum of 30 feet.
In the future, the Department will also be proposing that all buildings 300 sq. ft. or less be exempt from building permits instead of the current 200 sq. ft.
For more information on the proposed changes to the Agricultural Exemption and the proposed Exemption Permit, please visit our website at: https://www.mohavecounty.us/ContentPage.aspx?id=124&cid=360&page=6&rid=1427. Additional questions and requests for clarifications can be directed to Scott Holtry at the Development Services Department 928-757-0903.