Citizens wishing to oppose a zoning map change or seeking to get an initiative, referendum or recall on the ballot may choose to pursue one of the following options.  These measures generally require strict adherence to applicable statutes and most citizens involved seek separate legal advice to ensure that they are in compliance with all requirements.

2023 Initiative, Referendum or Recall

Formal petitions related to Initiative, Referendum, and Recall are all described in this handbook. These types of petitions can lead to formal public votes and require specific forms and signatures by persons who are registered voters.  

This handbook provides an overview of the Initiative and Referendum processes, instructions for how to file, statutory requirements, additional tools, links, and information to assist filers.

Article IV, Part 1, Section 1 (8) of the Arizona Constitution provides for local initiative and referendum actions in addition to statewide actions.  In those cases, the State Procedure Manual (and the provisions of A.R.S. Title 19, chapter 1) also apply to the local initiative and referendum measures (with local clerks filling the role of the Secretary of State per A.R.S. 19-141).

Petitions must be filed in accordance with the Arizona Constitution and Arizona Revised Statutes.  Keep in mind that the following filing deadlines apply:

Initiative - Petitions cannot be circulated for signatures more than twenty-four (24) months preceding the election at which the measure is proposed to be voted on and petitions must be filed no later than four (4) months preceding the election at which the measure is proposed to be voted on. 

Referendum - Petitions must be filed within thirty (30) days after passage of the ordinance, resolution or franchise.  For example, petitions must be filed with the Town Clerk no later than 30 days after the second reading at a Town Council meeting of an annexation or Final Development Plan of a new master planned community.

Recall - Petitions must be filed no later than  one hundred and twenty (120) days from the date of submission of the application for recall petition.

Preparing an Initiative, Referendum or Recall 

General Plan Amendment Application Process

A major amendment to the General Plan is any proposal that would result in a change to the Land Use Plan that would substantially alter the Town’s planned mixture or balance of land uses. The term amendment shall apply to both text and map revisions. Major amendments are considered on an annual basis by the Town Council and require a two-thirds (2/3) majority approval. They cannot be enacted as emergency measures and are subject to public referendum and they require two (2) public hearings, one before the Planning and Zoning Commission and one before the Town Council.

Amendments to the General Plan may be initiated by the Town or by formal application by the owner(s) or their agents of real property within the Town’s incorporated boundaries and sphere of influence. Such amendments shall be in conformance with the procedures set forth in the Arizona Revised Statutes. Prior to any approval of any land development authority that is in conflict with the General Plan, an amendment to the General Plan showing the proposal to be in conformance with the General Plan must be completed. Applicants requesting an amendment to the General Plan must prove that the proposed change is an improvement to the General Plan.

Click here and go to page 16 to review the criteria used to determine whether a proposed amendment to the General Plan substantially alters the mixture or balance of land uses. 

Informal Petitions

Other types of petitions involve a more informal process in which citizens can circulate a petition and present it to the Town Council as an indicator of neighborhood feelings about a particular issue.  Those types of petitions don’t require any particular form and citizens can use any format desired.