Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Transfer of Development Rights and Clustering

Rendering of Woolwich Township TDR

Proposed TDR receiving district for Woolwich, N.J. Courtesy GroupMELVINDesign

New Jersey municipalities have access to planning tools that can help preserve land and manage growth without having to rely solely on limited public funds allocated to land preservation. These mechanisms enable towns to transfer development from environmental, historic or agricultural areas in need of protection to places more suitable for growth. They range widely in scope and sophistication, from simple clustering provisions, where development is rearranged completely within a single parcel; to noncontiguous clustering, where development is transferred between two or more parcels; to the more complex and larger-scale transfer of development rights (TDR) option, where landowners in designated “sending areas” sell their development rights and agree to preserve those lands, and developers in designated “receiving areas” purchase those rights and with them the ability to build at a higher density than otherwise would be permitted.

TDR has been used successfully in New Jersey in Chesterfield and Lumberton townships, Burlington County and in the Pinelands region. Other attempts have encountered obstacles. With support from the William Penn Foundation, New Jersey Future convened a 40-member Transfer of Development Rights Task Force, which issued its final report in August 2010, recommending several statutory, regulatory and programmatic changes to facilitate the use of TDR and its cousins, clustering and noncontiguous clustering. As a result, New Jersey Future and other members from the TDR Task Force were instrumental in revising New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) to improve municipal access to the cluster and noncontiguous cluster tools.  Three years after the publication of the TDR Task Force’s final report, Governor Christie signed these revisions into law (P.L.2013, c.106).

In addition to the work New Jersey Future has done, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission convened a task force to study TDR issues in Salem County, N.J. The task force issued its final report (pdf) in June 2011. DVRPC also has a resource page for TDR in New Jersey and nationwide. 

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Reports, Presentations and Testimony

 

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