Minor Land Divisions And The 'Wildcats'



The purpose of a minor land division is to allow an owner of a property to divide the whole of the property into several parcels.

In Gila County, if the zoning permits, you can divide a parcel of land up to five times.

In the Town of Payson, you can only divide a parcel three times before the parcel would fall under the subdivision laws.

In recent years, minor land divisions have come under closer scrutiny by Arizona's state and county officials in an attempt to prevent or at least extend some control over "wildcat subdivisions."

A wildcat subdivision typically is a sprawling tract of land divided by a succession of owners in a way that leaves them exempt from putting in roads and possibly, public utilities such as water, sewer and electricity.

If you have ever driven to Laughlin, Nev., you probably passed through Golden Valley, which is just outside of Kingman. This is an example of "wildcatting." You will see dirt roads that are sprinkled across the desert in a haphazard fashion with scattered residences. Some roads are only wide enough for one vehicle to pass and the dust from the dirt roads can be choking.

Counties dislike wildcat subdivisions because of the increased cost of extending services to these outlying areas. Property tax valuation is generally lower and does not offset the higher costs of servicing these areas.

Public safety officials complain because of the disorderly address system and unregistered roads that make it difficult to respond to emergency calls.

The other side of the story is that the folks who live in these types of areas prefer them. They refer to themselves as "Old Arizonians" that want as little government in their lives as possible.

As an example, at one time in Pima County, more than 40 percent of the building occurred in unregulated areas.

An acquaintance in Mohave County, some years ago, contacted me about dividing land in Golden Valley, Ariz. in order to make a quick return on his investment. Against my advice, he initiated the process to begin a land division, only to be surprised when he received a call from the Mohave County Attorney. Before attempting a property division, it is best to get legal advice to assure the division is possible and legal. Successive lot splits by family members to circumvent the subdivision laws are illegal and can lead to fines and criminal prosecution.

Ray Pugel is the designated broker for Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty. For more information, call (928) 474-2216.

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