GCC reviews TDR ordinance

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By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

The Greenspace Conservation Commission (GCC) reviewed a draft of the Transferable Development Rights (TDR) ordinance proposal at their monthly meeting in April. The draft will next be reviewed by the Madison’s city attorney, Joe Reitman, before the commission submits the final version to the city council. The city council reviewed the TDR ordinance proposal on April 14 and the Madison Mayor, Fred Perriman and Madison City Council will hold a public hearing on May 2. “This is an amendment to the code of ordinances,” said Monica Callahan, director of planning for the city of Madison.

“One of the things that I think is exciting about the TDR program is that it has implications of preservation for the Downtown Development Authority, for businesses, property owners, as well as the GCC. It’s not often we have a city ordinance that can be used to the benefit of so many groups.” A TDR program 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. According to the GCC’s draft, the need for a TDR program in is about balancing development and green space in our community.

“The TDR Program allows local governments to preserve a community’s valuable resources (often rural, natural, historic, and/or scenic resources, among others), while protecting property values and accommodating growth; and the City of Madison Mayor and Council has the authority and responsibility to protect city resources and property values and direct growth to appropriate locations in the City of Madison…” Mollie Bogle, a city planner, explained the potential scope of the TDR program if adopted. “The DDA is proposing a pilot TDR program for a small area of the Downtown Urban Redevelopment Area (DURA) flanking Highway 83. If the ordinance is accepted and adopted by the Council, participation is voluntary for the eligible area property owners,” said Bogle. “I’m glad we are starting small and can see where it goes from there,” said Callahan.

The TDR program would allow eligible landowners in designated “sending parcels” to sell their developmental rights to developers seeking to build in designated “receiving parcels.” 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 parcels 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.” According to David Land, chair of the GCC, the proposal could incur some semantic changes before being submitted to the city council on April 14, but not substantive changes will be made.

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