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Land Use Planning Strategies--
Transfer of Development Rights

Transfer of development rights "is a device by which the development potential of a site is severed from its title and made available for transfer to another location. The owner of a site within a transfer area retains property ownership, but not approval to develop. The owner of a site within a receiving area may purchase transferable development rights, allowing a receptor site to be developed at a greater density." (State of California, Office of Planning and Research, General Plan Guidelines, 1987). 

Transfer of development rights is a tool often used in farmland preservation.

The National Association of Realtors has assembled a Field Guide to Transfer of Development Rights that offers links to information on TDRs, issues in implementing TDR programs, and case studies.

Boulder County, Colorado Transferred Development Rights program is featured on the County’s website.  The site provides background information on TDR programs including general definitions and the TDR exchange process. King County, Washington, has a Transfer of Development Rights Program modeled on the Boulder program and others.

New Jersey has a Transfer of Development Rights Bank that provides financial and other assistance to landowners and municipalities that enact TDR ordinances to encourage a shift in growth away from agricultural, environmentally sensitive or open space regions of a municipality to more appropriate areas.

Planners Web offers a Transfer of Development Rights Resources Page, with examples of the concept in application and links to further resources.

On-line Articles

Transfer of Development Rights for Balanced Development
An article from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that examines the opportunities and obstacles of Transfer of Development Rights in preserving open space and encouraging compact, centered development.

Transfer of Development Rights, Series III: Innovative Tools and Techniques, Local Leaders Guide to Land Use Law, Pace University Land Use Law Center
Describes an effective TDR program and outlines TDR statutes in the state of New York.

Transfer of Development Rights Update
This American Planning Association Conference presentation by Rick Pruetz from 1999 briefly describes 35 different TDR programs.

Transfer of Development Rights, Ohio State University Fact Sheet
Explains TDR principles and their use, especially as applied for Ohio.

Transfer of Development Rights
A fact sheet produced by 1000 Friends of Minnesota that describes TDR and gives examples of successful programs.

Transfer of Development Rights: Cases, Statutes, Examples, and a Model
A presentation by attorney John B. Bredin, given at the APA National Planning Conference in 2000.

Purchase of Development Rights May Become A Valuable Farmland Protection Tool in Wisconsin in the Next Century, Law of the Land Review, November 1997 (PDF) 

Transferable Development Rights: A Market Approach to Preserving Farmland and Open Space
Describes the logistics of Transfer of Development Rights programs to protect open space.

Incentive-Based Land Use Policies and Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay (PDF)
A discussion paper from Resources for the Future Foundation analyzes three economic incentive-based policies that could be used to alter land use patterns--purchase of development rights (PDRs), transferable development rights (TDRs), and development impact fees--and explores the strengths and weaknesses of each policy.


Transfer Development Rights, 1994, Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute
This Technical Service Report succinctly explains the various types of techniques employed, the benefits and problems created, and the legal hurdles TDRs present.

Transfer of Development Rights, 2000
American Planning Association offers this audiotape focusing on where TDR fits in the toolbox of community incentive programs for preserving agricultural and sensitive land.

Planning for TDR: A Handbook for New Jersey Municipalities 
Available from the Burlington County Office of Land Use Planning by calling (609) 265-5787.

Chapter on TDR in Holding Our Ground: Preserving America's Farms and Farmland, 1997.
Available from Island Press.

"Making Transferable Development Credits Work: A Study of Program Implementation," Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 52, No. 2, Spring 1982, pp. 203-211. 
A study describing methods for successfully employing transferable development credits programs. Available from the American Planning Association

"Institute a Transferable Development Credits Program," Building Sustainable Communities, Vol. 10, Land Use: Stewardship and the Planning Process, Global Cities Project, 1993. ISBN 1-88036-10-0. 
Introduces the principles of transferable development credits programs. Includes a profile of a transferable development credits program in Montgomery County, Maryland. Available from the Global Cities Project: 2962 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94123. Phone: (415) 775-0791; FAX (415) 775-4159 

Last updated: December 7, 2004

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