Transfer of development rights program explained


Staff Writer

HOWELL — Members of the Township Council recently received a crash course in one aspect of the state’s Smart Growth initiative.

The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) sent Timothy Brill to town hall to bring the council up to speed on a program known as the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR).

Under the auspices of a TDR program, a community’s officials may regulate building site densities by allowing higher densities on some parcels in exchange for lower densities on other tracts. The use of a TDR would require the establishment of sending and receiving areas.

The way the TDR program presently works, officials establish sending and receiving areas within their own municipality.

Brill is the SADC’s manager for TDRs and gave a brief presentation on the concept of the program during the council’s Dec. 14 meeting. He addressed the governing body after a resident asked municipal officials at a previous meeting to look into TDRs.

John Pearson, Casino Drive, is a property owner who will be directly affected by the rezoning of land that is being proposed for adoption in Howell’s revised master plan. The master plan is the document that sets the parameters for growth in a municipality.

The state mandates that the master plan be reviewed every six years and revised where necessary.

Suggested revisions for this round include changing some ARE-2 and ARE-3 zones to ARE-6.

Pearson owns 15 acres that are zoned ARE-2. That designation means homes may be built on 2-acre lots. If the zoning is changed to ARE-6, a home would have to be built on a 6-acre lot. The number of homes allowed on Pearson’s land would be reduced from about seven to two.

Property owners see that possible rezoning as having a negative financial impact on their land holdings. Seeking to bring pressure to bear against the rezoning proposal, Pearson and about 20 other land owners have formed Home Owners Organized for Fairness (HOOF).

Instead of rezoning to restrict residential growth, Pearson, speaking for himself and HOOF, has asked the council to consider TDRs.

Speaking to the members of the council, Brill told them, “I realize what development pressures you’re up against, but large-lot zoning does not discourage building.”

Instead, said Brill, TDRs are the way to go.

While acknowledging that “not too many communities want to be receivers,” Brill said state officials are now looking at the possibility of permitting inter-municipal TDR exchanges.

“TDRs should be an effective way to accommodate growth while preserving historic, agricultural and environmental resources,” he said.

Councilman Peter Tobasco said the concept is worth looking into.

Councilman Joseph DiBella, who is Howell’s mayor-elect, said he believes Howell should reach out to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders. He said the freeholders should be asked to inventory the county to determine if any municipality is interested in being a receiving community for development.

Mayor Timothy J. Konopka suggested that John Costigan, who chairs Howell’s Preservation Task Force, look into TDRs and whether Howell’s farmers should be encouraged to consider them.

Pearson has said he believes municipal officials should be looking to accomplish their goals under the parameters of New Jersey’s Smart Growth initiative, which includes cluster zoning. With cluster zoning, a parcel is developed with housing concentrated in one area of a property and the remaining land left undisturbed.