Croaff v. Evans

In Croaff v. Evans, 130 Ariz. 353, 636 P.2d 131 (App. 1981), the Court faced with whether an amendment to the zoning ordinances of Yavapai County complied with the voting requirements of A.R.S. 11-829(C). Id. at 354, 636 P.2d at 132. Section 11-829(C) required that "if twenty per cent of the owners of property by area and number within the zoning area file a protest to the proposed change, the change shall not be made except by the unanimous vote of all members of the board." Id. at 358, 636 P.2d at 136; see 1956 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 111, 4. In Croaff, one member of the three member Board of Supervisors disqualified himself due to a conflict of interest. 130 Ariz. at 354, 636 P.2d at 132. The remaining two members of the board voted to approve the amendment. Id. The plaintiff in Croaff argued that because only two of the three board members voted to pass the amendment, the requirements of A.R.S. 11-829(C) were not met and the amendment was invalid. Id. at 358, 636 P.2d at 136. The Court pointed out that a vacancy on the board was different than a "mere absence or failure to vote" by a member, and in such a situation the court must pay "close attention to the precise language used in the statute." Id. at 359, 636 P.2d at 137. The Court found that when a statute required a vote of a proportion of all members "elected," a vacancy was immaterial and the law required that the proportion be determined with reference to the entire board. Id. When such qualifying language is absent, however, compliance with the voting requirements is based upon the total membership of the board, reduced by any vacancies. Id. In finding that a disqualification of a board member was "closely analogous" to a vacancy, we held that the disqualified board member was not a board member for the purpose of determining whether the voting requirements of 11-829(C) had been satisfied. Id. Because "the remaining two members constituted the total membership of the board," the amendment received the required "unanimous vote of all members of the board." Id.