Madison Council approves Transferrable Development Rights amendment

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor

The Madison City Council approved a Transferrable Development Rights (TDR) amendment at the Dec. 12 regular meeting. The city of Madison adopted a TDR program in a small pilot area of the West Washington gate in the spring of 2014. 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. According to Monica Callahan, the new amendment extends the receiving areas for where TDRs can be used. TDRS are now eligible for use in all of the Downtown Urban Redevelopment Area, in Planned Residential Developments, in C-3 Zoning Districts and in existing Multi-Family Development. “This opens the use of the program to more individuals, and we hope to encourage market rate transactions,” said Callahan.

While the amendment passed in order to broaden the scope of TDRs, the council put some conditions on its approval.  “It passed provided that all such uses require a public hearing before the Madison’s Planning & Zoning Commission and Mayor & Council prior to use of the TDRs,” explained Callahan. “Sending Areas (where TDRS come from) have not changed.  Those areas must be indicated as significant on the Madison GreenPrint and something must be protected by conservation easement to create the TDR.” The TDR program will still aim to protect certain areas from becoming too developed and enable other areas to become more developed.

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 city the need for a TDR program is about balancing development and green space in our community. A TDR program allows 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 owner is endowed with four developmental rights (the right to build 4 units per acre). If the county adopts a a TDR ordinance, as Madison has done, eligible property owners can voluntarily forfeit their rights to build upon their land by selling those rights to eligible developers.

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