Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)

History: The FAQ material below was developed soon after the Recreation Element of the General Plan was approved (circa 2006). Since then, the Recreation Resort zone was approved, allowing Snowbasin and Powder Mountain to increase housing density by purchasing and transferring development rights (TDR). Snowbasin used TDR to transfer over 400 housing units from an area adjacent to Port Ramp to their development areas at Snowbasin. Powder Mountain, on the other hand, extorted 1400+ development rights from the county through their “Powderville” scheme. In any case, the county has adopted the TDR concept and has developed a mechanism to post TDR for sale. At least one large property owner has put TDR up for sale.

The only two alternative development scenarios presented at a February 2015 community open house (updating the General Plan) are entirely dependent on large scale TDR…transferring some 10,000 development rights from “preservation areas” to high density “nodes” along the highways.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is a Transfer of Development Right (TDR)?   A land use technique to protect and preserve undeveloped open land by transferring the “rights to develop” from one area to another.  As described in the Recreation Element of the Ogden Valley General Plan, more development would occur in resort areas with less concentration on the valley floor.
  2. Is the use of the TDR property right mandatory?   No.  The TDR property right is just one option landowners can utilize. However, the County may provide incentives to make transfers attractive to landowners.
  3. If I want to preserve my land from excessive development, what options are available other than TDR and how can I get more information on these options?   Current development options include those defined by Weber County zoning laws.  But basically, you can sell and transfer development rights if a market exists for them or you can place a conservation easement on the land.
  4. How is the value of TDR’s established?   The value is determined by the open market.  As a landowner you own the development right; therefore its value is whatever you decide it is worth to you combined with whatever a developer is willing to pay you for it.
  5. Some people say a Development Right is worth about $50,000.  Is this the ‘base’ price for a development right?   No, the value is determined by an open market. As of March 2015, no one has bought or sold a Valley TDR on the open market.
  6. Is there a way for the TDR seller to participate more fully in the financial future of the potential development of the development right being sold?   Yes, at least three options could be pursued for land owners to more fully capitalize on development opportunities:

    First development opportunity: A landowner could invest development rights into a new development by trading them for real estate, equity, or shares in a new resort development.  As with any business venture, two willing parties may explore any number of creative possibilities for exchanging TDRs or TDR value.

    Second: a land owner could sell all but a few TDR’s to a developer if an Estate Lot provision was included for the open space areas.  An estate lot is a large lot (probably at least 10-15 acres) used for agricultural or conservation purposes.  Ideally, estate lots would be built near existing roads to minimize disturbance to wildlife and scenic views throughout the valley.  Estate lots require minimal infrastructure investment and will be very valuable given their proximity to the surrounding preserved open space.

    Third development opportunity: Several land owners could consolidate their properties to create a new community while preserving some properties as open lands.  Land owners could master plan hundreds or thousands of acres by transferring development rights into a village area while preserving open areas and creating estate lots as part of the open areas.  The total value of the new master planned land could be divided proportional to the number of development rights contributed to the venture.  This new business entity could seek a partnership with a qualified developer to build infrastructure and homes as the development is built over time.  The land owners could own the raw land as a development investment, and earn a portion of the lots sales as land values increase.  This option is referred to as Landpooling.

  7. Where can I get advice on tax implications of TDR’s?   In all cases consult a qualified tax/legal advisor.  For example, one implication is that TDR enables a land owner to avoid Greenbelt rollback taxes that are due after land is developed.  The rollback tax is the difference between the taxes paid while on greenbelt and the taxes which would have been paid had the property been assessed at market value.  In determining the amount of rollback tax due, a maximum of five years preceding the change in use will be used. See Weber County Tax Assessor’s Web site at: http://www1.co.weber.ut.us/assessor/greenbelt.php

  8. I want to utilize the TDR property right.  When can I do this and how do I start the transaction?   You can list TDR for sale with the County.  However, what the county does determines the market for TDR. As of March 2015, county code says you can only transfer a TDR to a resort with RR zoning (Powder Mountain and Snowbasin). In the future the County Commission may decide to allow selling and transferring TDRs from “preservation” areas to “village areas”.

    What is the relationship between the TDR and ‘Cluster Ordinance’ that will soon be before the Weber County Commissioners?   TDR and Cluster Subdivisions are two separate animals. TDR allows development rights to be transferred from one property to another. Cluster subdivisions allow developers to concentrate their housing on smaller lot sizes and keep some of the land in permanent open space.

  9. The ‘Recreation Element of the Ogden Valley General Plan’ refers to four to seven (4-7) resorts areas, I know of Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Wolf Creek, and Wolf Mountain, where would the other three be located?    The additional resort areas are yet to be determined, but might be determined as part of the TDR ordinance.
  10. Can any land owner who has undeveloped land utilize TDR?   The TDR ordinance will probably define ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ areas.
  11. Is the TDR program something new?  Are there examples of other TDR programs?    The TDR process has been utilized in a number of communities throughout the United States since 1968 and within Utah.  The best way to learn about the utilization of TDRs is to use your favorite internet search engine and type in ‘Transfer Development Rights’. However, you will find many versions of TDR implementation and our concepts are very unique (transferring DR primarily to resorts). Although different in detail from what we will probably end up with, a working example of TDR in Utah is the town of Mapleton.
  12. What are the public benefits of a TDR program?    A TDR program can help to reduce the costs of growth to local residents.  Growth that is spread out requires more road miles and more infrastructure per housing unit, and thus requires more tax dollars per resident to maintain infrastructure and pay for services.  Growth that is concentrated into resorts, or built near existing roads and infrastructure will help to reduce local tax spending and required payments by property owners.  TDR’s can also reduce the risk and public costs of wildfire, flooding, slope failure and ground water contamination by encouraging development to be transferred away from critical lands.

Other TDR stuff

Click here for information on a handout provided at the Special Public Meeting on March 16, 2006.  Click here for TDR Glossary.

Powerpoint Presentation of March 16, 2006:

  1. TDR Illustration Only (0.5 MB)
  2. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) – A New Option for Land Owners in Ogden Valley (entire presentation – 3.2 MB)

GEM Reports, Documents and Web Pages of Interest

Note:  Created by the Ogden Valley GEM Committee (circa 2008, updated 2015).  All information contained within this document is deemed accurate and correct.  Every reader should verify any and all information prior to taking any action.