The Transfer of Development Rights program is state-wide legislation that allows county boards, under the county manager plan of government, to provide for the dedication of density and other development rights in each county’s Zoning Ordinance. With County Board approval, site plan projects can transfer density from one parcel or site plan to another.
The Arlington County Board may allow the following types of transfers: 1) a single transfer of all certified density or other development rights from one sending site to one receiving site, 2) a single transfer of all certified density or other development rights from one sending site to multiple receiving sites, 3) a multiple transfer of certified density or other development rights over time from one sending site to one or more receiving sites.
TDRs could occur only through a site plan process on the receiving site. County Board must approve all sending and receiving sites. The amount of density transferred would generally be based on the unused by-right density on the site.
The General Assembly of Virginia enacted the TDR legislation on March 26, 2005. Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) provisions and policy for Arlington County were adopted by the County Board in two stages:
- On February 25, 2006: The County Board adopted a Zoning Ordinance amendment in order to establish a TDR program (staff report); and
- On January 29, 2008: The County Board adopted Policy Guidance for Transfer of Development Rights, beyond the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance Section 36.H.5.b. On April 25, 2009, the Policy Guidance was further amended to include reference to TDR regulations adopted for the “Clarendon Revitalization District.” “Policy Guidance for Transfer of Development Rights, beyond the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance Section 36.H.5.b.” (staff report)
TDR Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance
Based on the legislation passed by the General Assembly, staff proposed that the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance be amended to establish a TDR program as part of the site plan process. Although the state legislation had a contingent expiration date of July 1, 2008, staff recommended the adoption of phase 1 of the process as soon as possible. The amendment was considered by the Planning Commission on February 6, 2006 and approved by the County Board on February 25, 2006. TDR provisions in Section 36. Administration and Procedures subsection H.5.b. of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance provide the County Board with the authority to approve the use of TDRs through the Special Exception Site Plan process for various purposes and outline a number of specific restrictions related to the use of TDRs. In general, the amendment allows a site to send density and other development rights for the purposes of, but not limited to, the preservation or facilitation of open space, historic preservation, affordable housing, community facilities, or community recreation.
TDR Policy Guidance
The Policy Guidance serves as a guiding document that outlines the general policies for the TDRs. As part of the process, staff solicited input from stakeholders and other staff through many meetings and public presentations, including on June 24, 2006, a public forum on the draft TDR program. A preliminary draft policy document was developed based on public input. On November 27, 2007, the County Board directed staff to advertise the Policy Document on the public notice for the January, 29, 2008, County Board meeting, and the associated Planning Commission meeting.