Working for Smart Growth:
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Pacesetters in Historic Preservation

March 4th, 2005 by

  • The Borough of Fanwood is pioneering an innovative approach to preserving the character of its historic district with its Victorian-era homes and huge oaks.
  • Under Fanwood’s proposed Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) plan, homeowners in the historic district could sell the rights to tear down their homes, or alter them in ways not consistent with the historic district, in exchange for a deed restriction that would permanently protect the home.
  • These rights, or TDR “credits,” would then be sold to interested developers, who could use them to build at higher densities in a portion of town that the borough would like to see redeveloped.
  • Fanwood’s is the first TDR plan for advancing historic preservation in the state, and was recognized last month with one of six TDR demonstration project grants given by the Department of Community Affairs.

While many towns struggle to hold onto historic community character as they grow, Fanwood in Union County has found a way to advance both goals.

Fanwood’s plan makes unique use of New Jersey’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program, which gives local governments greater control in guiding and managing development. While TDR credits are typically sold and purchased to help save open land, Fanwood’s TDR plan will be used to protect historic structures and the town’s historic character. At the same time, TDR credits help promote growth and development where the town desires: in Fanwood’s case, in a section of town near the train station that’s in need of redevelopment.

TDR offers a way to advance preservation goals, including historic preservation goals, hand in hand with smarter growth. Brief overview of Transfer of Development Rights  and how it works.

Read our Smart Growth Recommendation Series on Historic Preservation.

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