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FAQ About the Protection of Archaeological Resources

Ordinance No. 3243 on archaeology was adopted by City Council on July 13,1999        

Why does Scottsdale have archaeology requirements?
The purpose of the ordinance is to identify, protect, and recover when necessary, significant archaeological resources on public and private projects in Scottsdale. Without these requirements, many significant cultural resources from past human settlements would be lost forever.

Who in the City oversees the implementation of these archaeology requirements?
The Preservation Division staff and outside experts working with this division are primarily responsible for overseeing archaeology standards. The Scottsdale City Council appointed the Historic Preservation Commission to provide citizen oversight of the process and to conduct public meetings and hearings to review archaeology when required under the ordinance.

What types of development projects are exempt from the archaeological survey and report requirement?
Scottsdale has determined that it is more desirable to identify and protect the more significant archaeological resources than to identify sites and resources by conducting surveys on 100 percent of projects. A variety of development projects are exempt from field surveys according to Section 46-132 where projects will have little or no land disturbed and therefore minimal impact on archaeological resources is expected.

Who can complete the required surveys, reports and plans?
An archaeological survey and report shall be prepared for development projects by a “Qualified Archaeologist” as defined in the ordinance.  Applicants for development projects are responsible for hiring an archaeologist. A list of qualified archaeologists is available from the City or the Arizona State Museum.

When are surveys and reports required?
The archaeology survey and report must be submitted and reviewed by staff early in the review process because no development or ground disturbance can occur until all the ordinance requirements on archaeology have been met. City Project Coordination staff will specify in a pre-application meeting if an archaeological survey and report is required and when it must be submitted.

What criteria do archaeologists use in their reports to determine which resources are significant?
The Scottsdale ordinance contains criteria in Section 46-133 on what types of resources are significant in the City of Scottsdale. The archaeology report must include a summary of whether the resources on each identified site are significant according to local criteria, and whether any significant sites will be disturbed by the project. Archaeology reports also generally include a summary of whether the resources on the property are eligible or potentially eligible for the National Register and which eligibility criteria apply to the resources. This determination is necessary if any federal funding is involved in the project or if a 404 Permit is required due to project impacts on watercourses. Applicants and their archaeology consultants are strongly encouraged to prepare one report meeting both requirements.

Who reviews the reports?
Scottsdale staff and/or archaeologists under contract to the City will review the archaeology reports. A quick determination will be made on whether the report is complete and meets the City ordinance requirements and administrative policies for reports. Applicants will be promptly notified if a report is incomplete or unsatisfactory. Staff will evaluate the report findings on significant sites prior to the application acceptance date.

What if the report finds no significant sites and/or no significant archaeological resources will be disturbed by the project?
If the project has no significant resources and/or no significant resources will be impacted by the project, then a Certificate of No Effect will be issued by the City. The applicant will be required to submit documentation that identified significant sites within the project area will not be disturbed by the project. Documentation could include a conservation or NAOS easement or by some other legal restriction acceptable to the City.

What happens if the survey identifies a significant site that the project is expected to impact?
The applicant will be encouraged to change the plan to not impact a significant site or impact less of the site. The applicant will be directed to submit a Mitigation Plan for review if the project will impact all or part of a significant site identified in the survey and report. Staff can approve the Mitigation Plan or send the plan to the Historic Preservation Commission for a hearing and decision. The Commission will generally only be involved in reviewing Mitigation Plans if staff and the applicant cannot agree on the mitigation proposed. Upon approval of the Mitigation Plan the application may be accepted. If a Certificate of No Effect is not approved, a Certificate of Approval is required.

When is a Certificate of Approval granted?
The applicant must satisfactorily complete the implementation of an approved Mitigation Plan to receive a Certificate of Approval. If an excavation of artifacts is part of the implementation, the site excavations must be completed prior to the Certificate of Approval. A report of the findings is due within one year of the Certificate of Approval. Construction activity can occur on the site after a Certificate of Approval is granted.

What is a Certificate of Economic Hardship and who can apply?
A Certificate of Economic Hardship is a form granting an exemption from the requirement to implement a mitigation plan based upon economic hardship. An applicant who feels they can document that the time and cost of implementing the mitigation plan causes an economic hardship may apply for the exemption. The Historic Preservation Commission will hold a hearing and decide on the certificate application.