Beyond Zoning: Transferable Development Rights.
Creating an ag zone with limited development rights is one straightforward method to help preserve the municipality’s base of ag ground. A more sophisticated tool being implicated increasingly among municipalities is the incorporation of a transferable development right (TDR) program. A TDR program allows landowners to shift building rights from parcels in one area to parcels in another area; ideally, from areas where development is not desirable, like farm communities, to areas more adjacent to existing development, where access to amenities like public sewer and water makes growth more economically feasible. Some TDR programs reward landowners for shifting units to the desired “receiving zones” by granting multiple units in the receiving zone for each right given up in the ag zone. Other townships have themselves purchased building rights, preferring to pay landowners now and bank their building rights, to be resold by the township in the future in the preferred zone, perhaps at a net profit to the municipality. A well-planned TDR program works hand-in-hand with ag zoning to assist the municipality in planning to meet future growth needs while preserving the benefits provided by ag ground.