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October 19, 2006

Slutzky shares further details on TDR initiative

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Earlier this week, Albemarle County Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) appeared on WINA's afternoon radio program Charlottesville--Right Now.  In the interview, Mr. Slutzky provided additional details about a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) initiative which he is hoping will be embraced by his fellow Supervisors and the public as a new approach to protecting Albemarle's countryside.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20061017-WINA-SlutzkyTDR.mp3

First unveiled by Mr. Slutzky at an October 3rd press conference, there is no written proposal on the table about how a TDR program would specifically work in Albemarle County.  At the Board of Supervisors meeting on October 4th, the Board agreed to hear a presentation on TDRs which has now been scheduled for their November 1st meeting. Charlottesville Tomorrow interviewed Mr. Slutzky at his press conference [click for podcast and summary] and we will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of this initiative on our weblog.  In that spirit, this interview on WINA was quite interesting because Mr. Slutzky added some additional details to the TDR proposal.

Additional information on the TDR proposal

  1. The boundary area that would be created to receive development rights would be 1% of the County and represent an expanded growth area.  Mr. Slutzky argues that this new zone of development is required to create an effective market mechanism for the TDR program.  When questioned about why the existing growth areas are not the TDR receiving area, Mr. Slutzky has said the incentives do not exist there because developers already have a voluntary proffer system that they use to get higher housing density as part of a rezoning application.  He also suggests the existing County growth areas have a form of development (the County's Neighborhood Model) that present obstacles to the market incentives needed for a TDR program.
  2. Mr. Slutzky sees the boundary area as a way to cluster growth closer to the urban ring that would have otherwise been scattered in the rural countryside.  A developer who purchases development rights would have to use them in a specific neighborhood, one which could be built as "by-right development," thus not subject to proffers or Neighborhood Model design principles.
  3. Rural area development rights would get a 1:2 or 1:3 bonus as they move into the boundary area (i.e. 10 houses in the rural area could be converted to 20-30 houses in the boundary area).  Once purchased by a developer, the rights would become taxable property ineligible for land use tax subsidies.  In the rural area, these theoretical development rights are not taxed as discreet property assets.  Mr. Slutzky sees this as a way to raise additional revenues to fund the boundary area infrastructure (roads, schools, utilities).
  4. The boundary area would be 100% residential (i.e. not the "mixed use" development that places commercial buildings in town centers with a mix of housing types, such as Old Trail Village or North Pointe).
  5. The TDR program would have waivers for family sub-division rights in the rural area.
  6. The boundary area would have specific caps on housing density that would be lower than those allowed in neighboring growth areas.  Mr. Slutzky believes that with caps in the boundary area and a downzoning in the rural area, the end result will be "a net loss of development rights in the County as a whole."

Highlights of the WINA interview

  • 05:00 -- Supervisor David Slutzky explains the thinking behind the TDR program and how it was influenced by his conversations with residents who have raised property rights concerns with previous rural area protection strategies considered by the County.
  • 07:35 -- The TDR "proposal in a nutshell."
  • 10:50 -- Mr. Slutzky expands on the process by which rural landowners could voluntarily sell their development rights and how revenues could be raised by taxing these rights once purchased for use.
  • 17:25 -- Mr. Slutzky shares his view that past proposals to phase rural area development failed because of opposition by rural area land owners.  The TDR program is intended to create a market that will garner their support for a 50 acre downzoning in the rural areas.  Mr. Slutzky notes that he would not support a TDR program that didn't downzone the rural areas.
  • 21:20 -- Crozet resident Tom Loach calls in with a critique of the TDR program and Mr. Slutzky's votes in support of other growth area projects. 
  • 24:42 -- Mr. Slutzky describes the bonus densities allowed for transferred rights and caps on housing totals that would be in place in boundary area.  He argues that with caps and a downzoning in the rural area, the end result will be "a net loss of development rights in the County as a whole, but it still creates an active and vital market."
  • 25:40 -- Mr. Slutzky responds that he will continue to support quality projects in the designated growth areas until the rural areas are "constrained" in their development potential.
  • 26:30 -- Caller John Martin asks about Mr. Slutzky's statement that rural area residents have certain rights to sub-divide their property and questions whether they will want to give up those property rights in a downzoning.

Brian Wheeler

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