Field Guide to Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs)

(Updated March 2015)

Transfer of development rights (TDR) is one “smart growth” tool used to manage land development. TDR is the exchange of zoning privileges from areas with low population needs, such as farmland, to areas of high population needs, such as downtown areas. These transfers allow for the preservation of open spaces and historic landmarks, while allowing urban areas to expand and increase in density. This field guide details the basics of TDRs, processes used for creating successful TDR programs, case studies, and more. (H. Hester, Information & Information & Digitization Specialist)

E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.

The ABCs of TDRs

Using Smart Growth Strategies to Create More Resilient Communities in the Washington, D.C. Region, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nov. 2013).

Smart Growth Smart Energy Toolkit, (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, n.d.).

Smart Growth Program Toolkit, (National Association of REALTORS®, May 2012).

EPA Local Climate and Energy Program Webcast Script, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 31, 2010).

The Impact of Local Supporters on Smart Growth Policy Adoption, (Journal of the American Planning Association, Summer 2009). E

Smart Growth, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.).

Transfer of Development Rights in U.S. Communities: Evaluating Program Design, Implementation, and Outcomes, (Resources for the Future, Sept. 2007).

TDR 101, (Washington Business Journal, Aug. 17, 2007).

Preserving property: Transfer of development rights saves natural and historic sites, (Commercial Investment Real Estate, Mar./Apr. 2006).

TDR Case Studies

TDR Exchange, (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, n.d.).

County Plans New Transfer of Development Rights Program, (McClatchy—Tribune Business News, Dec. 2013). E

N.J. Program Has Been Preserving Farmland for 30 Years, (McClatchy—Tribune Business News, Oct. 2013). E

New York Questions Zoning, Other Planning Tools, (Planning, Jan. 2012). E

Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.).

What Makes Transfer of Development Rights Work?: Success Factors from Research and Practice, (Journal of the American Planning Association, Winter 2009). E

Land Use Initiative Memo Database (see issue: Transferable Development Rights), (National Association of REALTORS®).

Transfer of development rights (TDR) program, King County, Washington, (King County, 2009).

Association Fails to Overturn Town's Moratorium, (Wisconsin Association of REALTORS® v. Town of West Point, 2008).

Making markets for development rights work: what determines demand?, (Resources for the Future, Oct. 2005).

Award & Grant Opportunities

Some federal, state, and local government agencies offer grants and funding for smart growth initiatives. Below are a few examples of such opportunities.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Maine State Planning Office Land Use Planning Program

2010 Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth Grant Program, (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation).

Books, eBooks & Other Resources

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Managing Growth in America’s Communities (Adobe ePub, Kindle)

Green Cities: A Guide for Sustainable Community Development (Adobe ePub)

Sustainable Residential Development: Planning and Design for Green Neighborhoods (Adobe PDF)

Land Use Law for Sustainable Development (Adobe ePub)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Beyond takings and givings: Saving natural areas, farmland, and historic landmarks with transfer of development rights and density charges, (Arje Press, 2003). NAC 1565 P95b

Putting Transfer of Development Rights to Work in California, (Solano Press, 1993). NAC 1565 P95

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Agricultural & Farm Land

Field Guide to Development Impact Fees

Field Guide to Downzoning

Field Guide to Zoning Laws & Ordinances

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