The Planning and Zoning Commission has reviewed some proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance and is recommending the Town Council approve the amendments.

Commissioners reviewed language related to penalties for violations of the Zoning Ordinance and agreed with staff suggestions to make the wording more consistent with Town Code and state law.

According to staff there are two types of basic penalties – civil and criminal. Town Code outlines the specific provisions for criminal and civil citations, as well as various penalties.

The Zoning Ordinance states, “Any person, firm or corporation found to be violating any of the provisions of this zoning ordinance and amendments…shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to punishment provided in…Town Code.”

A proposed amendment would change “misdemeanor” to “civil infraction.”

A second change in the Zoning Ordinance deals with violations related to saguaro cactus, with state law providing different levels of penalties. Staff is proposing new language for the town ordinance as “in addition to applicable criminal penalties under Arizona Law, violations of this Saguaro cactus preservation ordinance shall be subject to the provisions of the Fountain Hills Town Code…regarding criminal penalties.”

A similar change is proposed for violations of the Adult Business Ordinance.

Another change covers language related medical marijuana. The proposed change under violations and penalties would state “In addition to applicable criminal penalties under Arizona law, violations of this Medical Marijuana Ordinance shall be subject to the provisions of the Fountain Hills Town Code…regarding criminal penalties.”

The commission voted unanimously to recommend council adopt the changes.

In a separate discussion related to Zoning Ordinance regulations related to flagpole height, staff is proposing language that specifies types of flags such as American flag, Arizona State flag and Town of Fountain Hills flag be eliminated from the ordinance.

The commission was told that town legal staff believes that Supreme Court rulings stating that sign ordinances be “content” neutral would also apply to specific types of flags.

As written, the ordinance provides exception to messages contained on governmental flags. Staff believes that to be unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court rulings.

The commission voted 4-2 to recommend council adoption of this change.