TDR updates drive Snohomish sustainability goals

The Snohomish County Council unanimously adopted an update to the County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program on Sept. 4, 2013. The updates make the program a more effective tool for conservation and development, and contribute to regional sustainability. County Council leaders and staff, Snohomish Planning and Development Services and nonprofit conservation and community building organization Forterra worked in partnership to craft the updates.

TDR programs work by giving private landowners the option to sell the development rights from their property to developers through a TDR marketplace. Developers in towns and cities within the urban growth area can purchase TDR credits in order to build to greater height or density as detailed in the incentive-zoning regulations. Landowners get to realize the market value of their land while conserving it. Developers get additional value for their projects.

Snohomish’s TDR program update better reflects the County’s conservation priorities by expanding eligibility to allow a broader set of farmers, foresters and rural landowners to sell their development rights. It also greatly increases the areas in the county where TDR is used and modifies incentives to better align where growth is planned. Additionally, Snohomish County is now participating in a regional TDR marketplace with King and Pierce Counties. TDR credits from each county can be purchased by cities in all three. Cities that agree to accept development rights will also have access to funding for parks, streetscapes, utilities, bike lanes and other infrastructure through the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program.

“The passage of these TDR program updates is a clear demonstration of Snohomish County’s dedication to land conservation and community building,” said Forterra President Gene Duvernoy. “Building upon our regional TDR marketplace is a huge step towards accomplishing the ambitious but achievable conservation and community building goals of our Cascade Agenda.”

Launched in 2005, the Cascade Agenda is a long-range vision and action plan that takes a holistic approach to land conservation, community building and economic development. It outlines a goal of conserving over 1.3 million acres of wild and working lands around the region.

“Snohomish County cares deeply about our great communities and our beautiful landscapes,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “It is exciting to advance a program that allows us to implement the kind of growth we want in our cities while protecting our farms and forests.”

County Council Vice-Chair Dave Somers sponsored the bill to update the TDR program.

“Farm and forest land are key pieces of the high quality of life we have here in Snohomish County,” said Somers. “Protecting that land with a market-based mechanism like TDR just makes sense. I will continue to pursue additional incentives with stakeholders to further strengthen the program.”

The TDR updates received important support from both developers and farmers. Developer Evan Hunden, President of DevCo, Inc., voiced his support for the program to the County Council.

“DevCo is excited about the prospect of contributing to the conservation of farms and forestland while building with greater density,” said Hunden. “We will definitely buy TDR credits from the marketplace to enhance future projects.”

Jim Anderson co-owns Triple A Cattle Ranch in Arlington along with his father Marvin.

“Not only are farms a key part of Snohomish County’s economy and culture, they are the foundation to our food system. TDR helps ensure we’ll always have farms in our county,” said Anderson.

Forterra began working with Snohomish County in 2009 on the creation of their original TDR program. Forterra and the County purchased TDR credits from the 62 acre Hidden Valley Camp property in 2009, conserving the land in perpetuity. It is part of the over 15,000 acres of farms, forest and parkland Forterra has conserved in Snohomish County.

The updates make the program a more effective tool for conservation and development. County Council leaders and staff, Snohomish Planning and Development Services and nonprofit conservation and community building organization Forterra worked in partnership to craft the updates.

TDR programs work by giving private landowners the option to sell the development rights from their property to developers through a TDR marketplace. Developers in towns and cities within the urban growth area can purchase TDR credits in order to build to greater height or density as detailed in the incentive-zoning regulations. Landowners get to realize the market value of their land while conserving it. Developers get additional value for their projects.

Snohomish’s TDR program update better reflects the County’s conservation priorities by expanding eligibility to allow a broader set of farmers, foresters and rural landowners to sell their development rights. It also greatly increases the areas in the county where TDR is used and modifies incentives to better align where growth is planned. Additionally, Snohomish County is now participating in a regional TDR marketplace with King and Pierce Counties. TDR credits from each county can be purchased by cities in all three. Cities that agree to accept development rights will also have access to funding for parks, streetscapes, utilities, bike lanes and other infrastructure through the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program.

“The passage of these TDR program updates is a clear demonstration of Snohomish County’s dedication to land conservation and community building,” said Forterra President Gene Duvernoy. “Building upon our regional TDR marketplace is a huge step towards accomplishing the ambitious but achievable conservation and community building goals of our Cascade Agenda.”

Launched in 2005, the Cascade Agenda is a long-range vision and action plan that takes a holistic approach to land conservation, community building and economic development. It outlines a goal of conserving over 1.3 million acres of wild and working lands around the region.

“Snohomish County cares deeply about our great communities and our beautiful landscapes,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “It is exciting to advance a program that allows us to implement the kind of growth we want in our cities while protecting our farms and forests.”

County Council Vice-Chair Dave Somers sponsored the bill to update the TDR program.

“Farm and forest land are key pieces of the high quality of life we have here in Snohomish County,” said Somers. “Protecting that land with a market-based mechanism like TDR just makes sense. I will continue to pursue additional incentives with stakeholders to further strengthen the program.”

The TDR updates received important support from both developers and farmers. Developer Evan Hunden, President of DevCo, Inc., voiced his support for the program to the County Council.

“DevCo is excited about the prospect of contributing to the conservation of farms and forestland while building with greater density,” said Hunden. “We will definitely buy TDR credits from the marketplace to enhance future projects.”

Jim Anderson co-owns Triple A Cattle Ranch in Arlington along with his father Marvin.

“Not only are farms a key part of Snohomish County’s economy and culture, they are the foundation to our food system. TDR helps ensure we’ll always have farms in our county,” said Anderson.

Forterra began working with Snohomish County in 2009 on the creation of their original TDR program. Forterra and the County purchased TDR credits from the 62 acre Hidden Valley Camp property in 2009, conserving the land in perpetuity. It is part of the over 15,000 acres of farms, forest and parkland Forterra has conserved in Snohomish County.

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