City’s development landscape changes: TDR plan makes rights transferable

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By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

Madison’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has recruited the Green Space Commission to form a subcommittee to explore the incorporation of a Transferable Development Rights (TDR) ordinance.

A TDR is a market-based ordinance, which would promote the voluntary transfer of growth from places where a community requires less development to places where a community would like to have more development.

Environmentally-sensitive properties, open spaces, agricultural land, wildlife habitat, historic landmarks, or any other places that are important to a community are often the types of properties that desire less development, while areas close to jobs, shopping, schools, transportation, and other urban services are areas that are appropriate for extra development “The DDA is proposing a pilot TDR program for a small area of the Downtown Urban Redevelopment Area (DURA) flanking Highway 83,” explained Mollie Bogle, Madison planner.

“If the ordinance is accepted and adopted by the Council, participation is voluntary for the eligible area property owners. A draft of the ordinance will be presented to the Council at an upcoming work session.”

“It’s a progressive move for a small community like ours,” said Monica Callahan, Planning Director for the City of Madison.

Callahan believes adopting a very “limited” version of a TDR program is a unique and mutually beneficial endeavor for the community.

“It’s a way of balancing the need for developmental growth and protecting green spaces in our community,” said Callahan.

According to Mollie Bogle, planner for the City of Madison, a TDR program “is a complimentary program to our existing flexible zoning techniques, which allows for density while protecting green space.

The balance is achieved by evaluating land that has specific characteristics to support density (proximity to parks, commercial, and transportation) and land that has specific features that deserve protection (water resources, groves of trees, sensitive soils or slopes, etc.).

These potential “receiving” and “sending” areas are discussed as part of the public hearing process for the TDR ordinance and its associated local land bank.

TDRs are an advanced planning technique that allow both pro-growth and pro-openspace proponents to achieve their goals.”

The TDR program would allow eligible landowners in designated “sending areas” to sell their developmental rights to developers seeking to build in designated “receiving areas.”

In Morgan County, for every acre of land acquired, the owners is endowed with four developmental rights (the right to build 4 units per acre).

If a TDR ordinance is adopted, eligible property owners can voluntarily forfeit their rights to build upon their land by selling those rights to eligible developers.

The city of Madison would designate the sending and receiving areas and would over see these transactions.

“This would be a tool to give us an alternative to deal with green space and density as well as additional revenue to buy more green space,” said Callahan.

“It also gives landowners a chance to contribute to acquiring and protecting green space.”

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