New rules to restrict minidorms in the Jefferson Park neighborhood near the University of Arizona won approval 6-0 from the City Council on Tuesday.

The more than 100 supporters of the neighborhood protection zone who turned out in support of the new rules cheered loudly upon passage.

Councilman Paul Cunningham did not vote because City Attorney Mike Rankin declared he had a conflict of interest. Cunningham's parents are helping to finance the construction of a rental home in the area.

The neighborhood restrictions make it much harder to build a large second floor on houses and limits the square footage of a house to 35 percent of its lot size.

Minidorms usually exist after a house is replaced with another that is usually larger, taller and has more bedrooms.

Jefferson Park is the second neighborhood to come forward with the new design standards. A claim - a precursor to a lawsuit - has already been filed by the Goldwater Institute against the first design standards approved in late 2009 for Feldman's Neighborhood, also near the UA.

Jefferson Park's rules are more restrictive than those passed in Feldman's, which dealt with aesthetics and setbacks, said zoning examiner Peter Gavin.

Before the vote, Rankin told the council it could face a lawsuit if it passed the new rules because of Proposition 207, which requires governments to compensate landowners if land-use rules lower their property values.

Because there is no case law involving Prop. 207, Rankin said he couldn't say whether the city would win the lawsuit. "I can't quantify what the risk is," he said.

The neighborhood rules do not allow for more intensive developments on the large streets that surround or cross the neighborhood, including East Grant Road, North Euclid Avenue, North Park Avenue, North Campbell Avenue and North Mountain Avenue.

Even though Councilman Steve Kozachik and Mayor Bob Walkup said they wanted to see the more intensive developments along major streets - and voted no several months ago because of it - both voted for the new rules Tuesday.

Joan Hall, president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, said the residents have worked thousands of hours to get the rules passed and questioned "what kind of message would it send" to neighborhoods that work with the city if the council rejected the new rules.

Hall told the council a vote against the rules was a vote for developers' propaganda and misinformation, a vote for bullying and threats, and a vote to destroy a historic neighborhood.

Diana Lett of Feldman's Neighborhood urged the council to pass the minidorm rules because she said the rules passed for Feldman's have substantially curtailed the development of minidorms there.

Minidorm developer Richard Studwell said the minidorm rules are simply an attempt to keep students out of the neighborhoods. He called it a "false solution" to problems in the neighborhood.

Contact reporter Rob O'Dell at 573-4346 or