Residents get information about development rights

Mon, 04/09/2007 - 8:35am
By: Ben Nelms

It is a process being used in only one place in Georgia. It is called Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) and it is happening in the Chattahoochee Hill Country (CHC) area of south Fulton County. It is a process designed to facilitate the preservation of the historic rural landscape while promoting the sustainable development of livable communities.

An April 2 town hall meeting at Rico Community Center provided details of the TDR process to nearly two dozen interested area residents. As in other recent meetings, Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy (CHCC) Executive Director Christine McCauley explained the process that provides a way for residents to benefit financially by selling the “development rights,” literally the “right” to develop a piece of property, to an interested buyer while still maintaining ownership of their land. At the end of the process, a developer can purchase those rights to increase density in an area designated for the development of a village area under the auspices of the CHC Land Use Plan and Overlay District.

According to the TDR plan, the right to develop a piece of property relies on sending areas and receiving areas. Sending areas are traditionally rural areas that are environmentally sensitive or culturally significant, those which the community deems worthy of protection. Receiving areas are those designated for commercial and residential development. So at its core, the TDR program is a method of shifting density from one area to another, McCauley said. And in keeping with the widely held belief that Chatt Hills should remain as rural as possible, the TDR program provides a way to maintain that rural nature while clustering development in villages, leaving the large majority of land free of the traditional subdivisions and strip centers so pervasive across metro Atlanta and the United States.

Now in its beginning phases, the Chatt Hills TDR program currently has 21 TDRs available, with one acre equal to one TDR. The current market value of a TDR is $4,000-5,000. The non-profit CHCC functions as a TDR bank, though land owners also have the option of selling TDRs directly to a developer whose project meets the land use and overlay requirements.

“TDRs are totally market-based,” McCauley said. “The value is determined by what the buyer is willing to pay. We hope to have more TDRs available for developers to buy and transfer to their projects.”

Citing the currently proposed Friendship Village development as an example, McCauley said 3,000-4,000 TDRs will be required to complete a full build-out of the project.

In all, McCauley said the TDR program benefits land owners through the provision of more open space, less sprawl, focused development and extending the rural atmosphere of the Chattahoochee Hill Country area. The benefit to developers, she said, comes with the ability to develop at higher densities, thus increasing the return on investment.

McCauley said CHCC will continue to hold town hall meetings and provide other venues to promote public understanding and participation in the TDR process. Residents can contact the CHCC office 770-463-1548 if they are interested in attending.

login to post comments