Surprise Heritage District

The Surprise Heritage District (SHD) is a zoning district that regulates properties in the city’s Original Town Site (OTS), which is bounded North-South by Bell Rd and Greenway Rd and East-West by El Mirage Rd and Dysart Rd.

The SHD is intended to aid in revitalization of the OTS while preserving historical character and a unique sense of place. The SHD was approved by the Surprise City Council in June 2016 following extensive public outreach and input.

Comprehensive design standards apply to all properties in the OTS:

  • Implements the desired character and architecture on new development
  • Previously applied under the authority of the OTS revitalization plan
  • Acceptable architectural styles include Bungalow, Southwest, Spanish Colonial Revival, Pueblo, and other common to the Valley Metropolitan area from the late 1800’s- through the 1950’s
  • All new homes will include a front porch

Works in combination with other zoning regulations:

  • Does not change allowed land use regulations
  • Does not change development standards
  • Additional zoning is needed to identify these regulations

Overlay Zones

  • Within the SHD, there are two overlay zones used to regulate allowed land uses and developments standards such as setbacks, density, and building heights. The Residential Overlay (SHD-RO) focus on residential areas within the SHD while the Commercial Overlay (SHD-CO) facilitates shopping for residents and visitors with appropriate consumer-oriented retail and service functions. The boundaries between these overlays follow the general development pattern of the existing residential and commercial properties.
  1. Residential Overlay (RO)
  2. Commercial Overlay (CO)
Different from Traditional Single Family Neighborhoods

The Residential Overlay (RO) allows for a variety of residential land uses:
  • Single-family, possible for more than 1 home on a large property
  • Duplex, or architecturally integrated apartments
  • Live/work units
  • Consolidates a variety of residential zoning
    • RL-5 (Low density) and RM-6 (Medium density) become SHD-RO
New Development standards may help bring current “legal, non-conforming” properties into conformance:
  • Smaller setbacks
  • Increased maximum lot coverage
  • Allow more than 1 accessory structure up to 800 sq. ft.
  • The RO promotes desired pedestrian scale with flexible front yard setbacks.
Table No. 2 – SHD Residential Neighborhood
  Residential Overlay Zoning (RO)
Attached Product Detached Product Multi-Family Product
Min. Lot Area 5,000 5,000 15,000
Min. Lot Width -- -- --
Min. Lot Depth -- -- --
Min. Front Setback 15’2,3 15’2,3 15’2,3
Max. Front Setback 30’4 30’4 30’4
Min. Side Setback 5’/10’1 5’ w/ 15’ total1 20’
Min. Rear Setback 12’ 15’ 20’
Max. Bldg. Height 30’ 30’ 35’
Lot Coverage % 65% 65% 65%
  1. 0 feet; side yard setback permitted for common wall attached dwelling option. End units shall maintain minimum total yard setback on one side of building.
  2. Only a covered front porch may encroach closer to the street by up to 5 feet.
  3. Front facing garage doors shall be setback a minimum of 20 feet.
  4. Measured from the primary dwelling; excluding front porch.

Introduces “Cottage Industry” into the OTS to help grow home based businesses:
  • More flexible than the “Home Occupation” regulations
  • A small business conducted as an accessory to the residence
  • Both protect against adverse effects of activities associated with businesses in residential areas
  • Hours of operation are defined as 8am-8pm
  • Allow a small number of employees
  • May use up to 50% of the home
  • Activities are allowed outside the house (must be screened)
  • Small signage is allowed to identify a business in the home
  • Wider range of business types can be a “Cottage Industry”
Allows Manufactured Homes:
  • Viable housing option within the OTS. Many exist but need to be replaced/updated
  • Cannot be more than 10 years old when acquiring building permit
  • Must maintain the aesthetic and architectural design standards similar to conventional site-built homes
  • Requires a front porch
  • Garage/carports shall match architecture of the home
  • All additions must meet building code requirements and be compliant with HUD standards

Development Incentives

Adopted under Ord 2016-14, the City’s Infill Incentive District provides financial incentives to promote both residential and commercial development that will aid in the revitalization of the Original Townsite. In order to be eligible, properties within the OTS will now be required to have one of the optional overlay zones, either SHD-RO or SHD-CO. If the property qualifies, the available incentive and procedure to obtain it will be determined by the type of project: residential or commercial.
  • New residential development on parcels zoned either SHD-RO or SHD-CO shall receive a 100% waiver of the City of Surprise Development Impact Fees
  • New, expanding Qualifying Commercial development may request a 100% waiver of Building Plan Review, Building Permit, and City of Surprise Development Impact Fees at the approval of City Council

Rezoning Process

The City initiated a rezoning application to remove the burden of cost and obligation from the multitude of different property owners. They were not individually responsible for the work and effort necessary to rezone the numerous separate properties throughout the OTS.

Option to Opt-Out

The selected overlay zones are not mandatory. Property owners who find it necessary to retain the zoning that was on the property prior are allowed to opt-out of the overlay zones. The comprehensive design standards and requirements for new development within the SHD component of this rezoning will apply to all properties within the OTS.

By opting-out of the overlay zone, the new Land Use Matrix and development standards (reduced building setbacks, increased maximum lot coverage, etc.) will not be associated with the property. The other sections of the Surprise Unified Development Code will regulate the allowed uses and development standards.

The “Opt-Out Letter” was included in the Public Notice Packet. If signed by the property owner and submitted to the City, an administrative process will retain the current zoning, and associate land uses, development standards, and other regulations. The property owner will have up to three (3) years to sign and turn it into the City. Blank copies of the Opt-Out letter are available during a meeting with the Community Development staff.