TDRs get another look?

It seems the Virginia Association of Realtors and Virginia Association of Counties have been hard at work on Transfer of Development Rightsthey’ve even developed a model ordinance (PDF).

What is a TDR? From The NAR’s Field Guide to Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) (bolding mine)

The quest for controlled growth requires creative planning and foresight. Transfer of development rights (TDR) is just one tool used in the battle to contain sprawl . TDR is the exchange of zoning privileges from areas with low population needs, such as farmland, to areas of high population needs, such as downtown areas. These transfers allow for the preservation of open spaces and historic landmarks, while giving urban areas a chance to expand and experience continued growth. …. (K. Swanson, Information Specialist)

The TDR concept is far too complex to be encapsulated in one (or six) blog posts; it’s a tool that could affect growth management and grown in the Charlottesville and Albemarle region.

A much-too-simplistic definition of TDRs – selling development rights from rural areas into a “receiving area” which is ostensibly in the “growth area” and effectively downzoning and preserving rural areas.

The City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle and various local special interest groups such as ASAP, PEC, and others have been working on and discussing TDRs for years.

From Charlottesville Tomorrow:

While the idea of TDR may be fairly new to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community, the concept has been in practice for about 40 years. The rate of success has varied widely between communities. Pruetz’s and Standridge’s evaluation of the factors that differentiate the successful programs from those that have not been able to meet their stated goals could help local leaders determine whether Charlottesville-Albemarle has the right conditions and aspirations for a successful TDR program.

Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) has said that in his own research he was not able to find any well-functioning TDR program that did not also include a down-zoning.

The work group was fairly diverse – attorneys from all over. 🙂

We’ve discussed TDRs on RealCentalVA a few times over the years. The bill that enabled it passed in 2008. The above-referenced code of the Commonwealth of Virginia is here.

Learn more about TDRs at Charlottesville Tomorrow than you ever wanted to know .

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1 Comment

  1. Dirt Worshipper January 7, 2010 at 15:41

    I keep hearing how complex TDRs are, but really I’m not sure that’s the case. It’s the details of how to implement that get complex. Here’s my take on them:

    1) You designate some area that you want to protect as a “sending area”
    2) You designate another area that can accept more density as a “receiving area”
    3) Landowners in the sending area can voluntarily sell their unused development rights to the receiving area.

    The part that confuses everyone is how you could apply that to a system like ours with a predefined growth area and a rural area. If you change the rules for developing the growth area then you potentially anger developers, and possibly lose your control over how development occurs. If you expand the growth area then you anger conservationists. Furthermore, it may be unrealistic to create a growth area large enough to consume the number of development rights in the rural area. This also means that with so much supply that demand may be low and there may not be a real market for them.

    Here’s the solution: Start Small. Identify high priority conservation targets, especially ones ineligible for funding from other conservation sources and make those the sending area. Add a density bonus for sustainable design and infrastructure improvements. See? Simple.


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