The 1950s zoning permit for farm worker housing that was never built is tying the hands of Maricopa County officials southwest of Phoenix, the Arizona Republic reported Saturday.
By February, renters are expected to look down on a herd of longhorn cattle, rural ranchettes and dirt roads.
A water shortage-plagued local water company has refused service, but the builder is taking legal action to get it to provide water. County regulators say it's all legal, thanks to long-standing county property rights policies and the plan approved in the 1950s for farm worker housing.
Property owner Doug Adcox has building permits for 16 apartments and eight septic tanks on land next to his trucking business, whose driveway will serve as access to the apartments.
Queen Creek town officials said they knew about the historic zoning but never believed the county would issue building permits for apartments, given the lack of water and sewer and the county's 1992 area plan, which calls for no more than one home per acre.