County TDR Proposal
following are the key elements of the proposal:
Divide the current Rural Area into two new districts: a new Rural Area
compromising 94% of the County, and a new Boundary Area, compromising 1 % of
the County and contiguous to existing Designated Growth Areas
Downzone the new Rural Area such that new lots can only be created if they
are at least 50 acres in size.
Establish a Transferable Development Rights (TDR) Program to facilitate the
transfer of development rights from the new Rural Area to the Boundary Area,
including those that were rendered unusable by the downzoning of the new
following are some of the particulars relating to the key elements identified
Only those development rights that could have actually been used prior to
the downzoning would be eligible for transfer under the TDR Program. The
seller would be required to ‘prove’ the existence of their development
rights in the same manner as currently required; then they have a sellable
right. The only exceptions would be that they would not be required to drill
a well or perform a perk test of the soil. Stream setbacks, sufficient
square footage to accommodate two septic fields, and all other requirements
would need to be satisfied before the development right could be sold.
Existing undeveloped lots that are smaller than 50 acres and have no
division rights but which could be developed would be unaffected by the
downzoning. However, these lots could be placed into conservation easement
to retire the development right. The owners could then participate in the
The County will determine the location of the Boundary Area, and determine
the maximum density allowable in this area. The anticipated density is 2
lots per acre, which would mean that about 10,000 dwelling units could exist
in the Boundary Area.
The Boundary Area will not be subject to neighborhood model form, and
development will occur ‘by right’. In order to build more than would
currently be allowed by right in the Boundary Area, land owners would gain
bonus density up to the maximum density established by the County by
purchasing development rights under the TDR Program from Rural Area
For each development right purchased from the Rural Area, the Boundary Area
recipient would be entitled to build two dwellings. If a Boundary Area
landowner wanted to build affordable dwelling units, they could build three
for each development right purchased from the Rural Area.
Unused development rights associated with properties in the Rural Area are
not currently taxed by the County Assessor, because it is not known if they
are real or theoretical rights, and it is not known what they are worth.
Once those rights are transferred to properties in the Boundary Area, it
will be known that they are actual usable rights, and their value will be
known. Thus, their value will be taxed by the Assessor.
Family subdivisions will be allowed in the Rural Area under certain
Rural Area property values are expected to remain constant or increase,
because there will be fewer purchase options for people moving into the
County, and because Rural Area land that is surrounded by properties that
will always remain rural is more valuable in the market than properties that
have the potential to be surrounded by development.
has experienced Rural Area home building at approximately 250 – 300 houses
per year for the last several years. At this rate, the demand for
development rights will provide a market for approximately 20 years.
The proposal is an attempt to implement the Albemarle County Comprehensive
Plan by providing real protection of the Rural Areas through the downzoning.
The proposal is also an attempt to ensure that Rural Area landowners are not
disproportionately burdened by the aforementioned action.
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