by Terry Rogers
The City of Milford Planning and Zoning recently held a public hearing regarding the establishment of transfer-of-development (TDR) credits as part of the Southeast Master Plan. A second public hearing was held in front of City Council on Monday, July 22 and Council voted to approve ordinances that would amend zoning to implement the plan.
The State of Delaware has invested a significant amount of taxpayer money in preserving farmland through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation (DALPF), but they have learned that simply preserving farmland is not enough to encourage and support farming as a viable, rewarding living. For this reason, the City and DALPF have partnered to create a TDR program that will permanently preserve farmland identified in the Southeast Master Plan.
“Preserving the farmland to the Southeast will create a predictable city limit,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “There will be no threat that the land can be developed into residential developments, insuring that the City’s infrastructure and services will not be stressed and overextended without an additional tax base to support it.”
The first step in the process is for the City to develop what are known as Sending and Receiving areas. A Sending Area are the parcels where the TDR credits will come with the goal to permanently preserve these areas as farmland and open space through deed restrictions and easements. In return for agreeing to permanently preserve a farm, the landowner would be compensated monetarily. The number of dwelling units that could have been built on the property would then be “sent” or transferred to a Receiving Area. These are areas where the City is prepared for higher densities.
“In the Milford ordinance, all areas designated as TDR Sending Areas must convey all of their available transfer credits at the time of preservation easement dedication and property owners who have transferred development rights from their land forfeit the ability to subdivide for residential development,” Pierce said. “The Southeast Master Plan states that developers would be able to build up to eight units per acre by-right through the TDR program. Therefore, Receiving Areas would be rezoned to R-8 Garden Apartment and Townhouse District in accordance with Code.”
An appraisal conducted by Karen H. Belinko Appraisals LLC, who was authorized by City Council to prepare an appraisal document for the lands designated for the TDR program, determined that land in the Southeast corridor was valued at approximately $6,000 per acre. Assuming two dwelling unites per acre of development based on county zoning codes, the TDR credit value would be established at $3,000 per dwelling unit. Four areas were identified as receiving areas with most of them already in City limits. One area, just south of the new hospital on Route 30, would need to be annexed into the City.
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