Source: NorthFulton.com

Milton residents learn more about development rights

by BETSY RHAME-MINOR

February 12, 2013

MILTON, Ga. — Milton landowners of more than 5 acres gathered at a workshop Tuesday, Jan. 29 to hear details about the city’s new transfer of development rights, or TDR, program.

Members of the community development staff at the city of Milton, the city attorney and a TDR consultant were all on-hand to answer questions in the open meeting.

The program was adopted in June 2012, and the Jan. 29 meeting served as the first forum for citizen questions and discussion.

The premise of TDR is to protect privately owned open spaces from development in what are called “sending areas,” and increase the available density for “receiving areas.”

Rick Pruetz, TDR consultant, said that it’s, “zoning that implements conservation and development [in a] voluntary redirection of growth.”

There are two types of sending areas.

In one, the owner continues living on the property, but enters into a permanent conservation easement, which limits the density of residential development allowed on the land.

In the other, the owner sells land that’s been approved into the program to the city of Milton for use as a public green space.

Participation in either scenario is voluntary.

“It’s not for everyone,” said Kathy Field, community development planner for the city of Milton. “It’s an available tool for the city to acquire land without using [city] money.”

Landowners who opt into the program would choose which sending space and submit an application to have their land considered.

The city plans to maintain a list of potential sellers of TDRs and potential developers, who would want to purchase TDRs to increase their available density in a nearby receiving area.

The sale of TDRs would be privately negotiated between the two parties.

Milton residents had differing opinions on whether participation in the TDR program would be beneficial.

“It’s something our family is thinking about,” said Shannondale Farm owner David Shannon. “I think it’s a positive for the community.”

Marty Lock thought the information was presented well, but he still needs more information to make an informed decision, he said.

“[Presenters] didn’t have enough of the right answers,” Lock said. “It’s new and it’s foreign. People are pretty possessive of their property.”

During the meeting, residents raised questions about fair market value for their TDRs, the permanency of the program and inheritance and estate questions that could come up years after the transfer is made.

“I don’t think the incentives of the TDR plan are attractive enough to offset the permanent restrictions on landowners, but I think it is an interesting solution for owners who want to prevent their properties from ever being subdivided or developed,” said Milton resident Linda Rathjen. “If only one or two property owners participate, Milton will have preserved green space without taxpayer money.

“TDRs may not be the answer,” she said, “but I appreciate that the council members are looking for long-term solutions that attempt to keep Milton property taxes from increasing.”

TDR ordinances are already in place in Crabapple, Chattahoochee Hills and Atlanta.

Another TDR area is proposed for the Ga. 9/Deerfield Parkway corridor.