Creative Solutions
That Are Cost Effective

Religious buildings must comply with zoning laws

On behalf of Kadish & Associates Law Group posted in Commercial Real Estate Transactions on Monday, June 19, 2017.

Building major buildings involves getting approval from governing agencies, like a county Board of Adjustments. Public hearings may also be required. Phoenix, Arizona, commercial real estate lawyers are often hired to help with the process to make sure that it is done successfully.

This applies to religious buildings, such as new churches and temples. The LDS Church’s Tucson Arizona Temple is a recent example. The temple has as special design, with a dome meant to be atmospherically reminiscent of Italy’s Tuscany region. That makes it different from some other Mormon temples, which often have steeples, spires or towers. The leadership of this Mormon temple, however, preferred the dome.

Of course, they needed to make sure that the dome, and other parts of the building, were in full compliance with local zoning allowances. The temple is located on a seven-acre site in Pima County, at the base of the Catalina Mountains. It’s location, though near Tucson proper, puts it under the jurisdiction of Pima County instead of Tucson in regards to applicable zoning ordinances and codes.

When planning the temple dome, the church leadership looked at other domed buildings in the area that they particularly liked. Those included a church called Mission San Xavier del Bac, which is 10 miles south of Tucson, and the old Pima County Courthouse, which is in downtown Tucson.

Pima County’s zoning code says that religious buildings are limited to a maximum of 44 feel tall, plus the height of any dome or cupula. The temple stands at 44 feet above ground up to the point that the dome starts, with the dome itself being and additional 27 feet tall.

Deciding to go with the dome instead of a steeple, spire or tower let the temple be built without having to seek a variance for the structure itself, though a variance was needed for a stretch of fencing on the property. Compliance with zoning allowances in cases like this is one of the reasons why builders should get sound legal representation at the beginning of their planning process.

Source: Deseret News, “Why the latest Mormon temple design features a dome, not a steeple,” Scott Taylor, June 08, 2017

Request For Consultation

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.