Friday, March 17, 2006

Saving lands and housing people

I served on Gallatin County's Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) committee. Transfer of development rights is a mechanism used to keep open spaces open and to direct development to appropriate areas. It's a market-based technique that encourages the voluntary transfer of growth from places where a community would like to see less development (called sending areas) to places where development is more appropriate: closer to jobs, businesses, services, health care, schools, etc. (called receiving areas).

TDR is an effective method that landowners can use for continuity of open space and of urban development. It can help to prevent checkerboard development. The TDR committee studied all aspects of TDR and asked some hard questions: will developers participate? will landowners sell development rights? will cities serve as receiving areas? and we proposed answers to those tough questions; I and the county planning director wrote the report of the committee to the county commission.

Yesterday, city and county commissioners, as well as members of the TDR Committee, met to plan for ways to implement a TDR plan. Bozeman supports the preservation of open space and sensible development patterns; city voters have twice passed Open Space Bonds with strong majorities, and the city commission approved the Bozeman Creek Neighborhood Plan last year, which seeks to preserve the Bozeman Creek corridor and to direct development to support that preservation goal. Other subarea plans are being written now, too, with the goal of directing development and preserving open space, riparian corridors, watercourses, and habitat.

Gallatin County is the fastest growing in Montana; I'm proud to serve on Bozeman's Planning Board and Zoning Commission and on the TDR Board because I believe that if we develop responsibly, with sensitivity to our natural setting and to the logical progression of our urban landscape, we'll enjoy the benefits for generations. If we don't develop sensibly, we'll spend years trying to correct the situation.

TDR is just one way to encourage and promote preservation as well as responsible development. Be sure I'll continue to do all I can to forward those goals.

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