New Sun Business Park, LLC v. Yuma County – 5/5/2009

May 14, 2009

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds that the County Board of Supervisors Must Appoint Both County Zoning Inspectors and Deputy County Zoning Inspectors, But, Under the Circumstances of this Case, the Deputy County Zoning Inspector Acted in a De Facto Capacity.

After Ron Van Why, a deputy county zoning inspector, issued zoning complaints against it, New Sun Business Park filed a complaint in the trial court claiming that the County Board of Supervisors had failed to properly appoint Van Why and the County Zoning Inspector.  The trial court initially issued a writ of mandamus, but later dismissed New Sun Business Park’s complaint after the Yuma County filed a motion to dismiss.  This appeal followed.

The Arizona Appeals Court first concluded that the County Board of Supervisors had properly appointed the County Zoning Inspector pursuant to a county ordinance which provided that the county planning and zoning director is also the county zoning inspector.  This remained true even after the County Board of Supervisors replaced the ordinance with an unrelated ordinance which no longer mentioned the county zoning inspector position because the County Board of Supervisors did not repeal the zoning ordinances or transfer the duties of the county zoning inspector to other county officers.

 The Appeals Court next held that A.R.S. § 11-808(A), which provides that a county zoning ordinance “may establish the position of county zoning inspector, and such deputy inspectors as may be required, who shall be appointed by the board,” requires that the county board of supervisors appoint both the county zoning inspector and all deputy county zoning inspectors.  Finally, the Court concluded that although the county board of supervisors had not appointed Ron Van Why, he acted in a de facto capacity because enforcement of the zoning regulations serves the public interest and no one was previously aware that he had not been validly appointed.  Consequently, the complaints that Ron Van Why issued were valid.

Judge Gemmill authored the opinion; Judges Norris and Kessler concurred.