Transfer of Development Rights and Clustering
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 non-contiguous 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 non-contiguous clustering. New Jersey Future is now working to implement the task force recommendation to advance legislation to make clustering a more powerful, easier-to-use tool for municipalities.
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.
New Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly approves the cluster development bill, which could see a Senate vote as soon as May 13.
The cluster development bill has received unanimous approval in Senate and Assembly committees, and is headed for votes in the full Senate and Assembly.
The cluster development bill is advancing in the New Jersey State Legislature; key contacts and bill text.
A new report from New Jersey Future examines the use of non-contiguous clustering in nine New Jersey municipalities as a land-preservation tool.
Plan calls for channeling future growth into walkable, mixed-use centers, through either redevelopment of existing cities and towns or creation of new communities, surrounded by protected open lands.
This report from New Jersey Future examines the use of non-contiguous clustering as a land-preservation tool in nine New Jersey municipalities. May 2012.
An overview of pending cluster development bill in the New Jersey legislature, along with relevant resources.
Chesterfield is poised to become the state’s first municipality outside of the Pinelands to add significantly to its already impressive farmland preserve, using a Transfer-of-Development-Rights program.
Two projects and three plans win 2003 Smart Growth Awards.
Reports, Presentations and Testimony
- How Clustering Works
- Cluster bill - summary of key provisions
- Case Studies of Non-Contiguous Clustering in New Jersey 04-12
- Presentation: Affordable Land Preservation Tools 6-1-11
- Notes on Affordable Land Preservation Tools 6-1-11
- Presentation: Land Preservation Using Off-site Clustering 03-19-11
- Presentation: The Status of Transfer of Development Rights in New Jersey 12-10
- Case Studies in Transfer of Development Rights 8-10 (Intern report)
- Transfer of Development Rights Task Force Report 08-11-10
- Transfer of Development Rights (Updated) 05-04