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Revamp: Transfer of Development Rights Program

Updated: Jun 28

One tool that Blaine County leverages to manage its growth is a transfer of development rights (TDR) program. The program allows landowners to sell and transfer the development rights associated with a parcel of land in a sending area, to another parcel in a receiving area. Designated sending and receiving areas traditionally direct development into cities and conserve open space or agricultural land in rural areas. After more than a decade idle, Blaine County’s program saw transactions in 2021 and 2023

The County’s program is limited by several factors known to bolster other programs. Firstly, there is no communications hub to connect potential sellers and buyers. Secondly, the sending and receiving areas are both in the County; the program is not interjurisdictional. Participants cannot apply TDRs within city limits, where infill and density is most appropriate.  Thirdly, the program lacks a bank or fiduciary agent that can facilitate transactions or stimulate activity when there is a lull.  

A Boise state study suggests that “antigrowth sentiment in the area” and aversion to increased density in downtown cores limits the effectiveness of the TDR program and may inadvertently encourage sprawl outside urban centers, or promote the development of unprotected land near but not inside receiving areas. Though these confines limit the efficacy of the program in its current form, there is potential of a revamped program.

A recent study estimates that an expanded program could shift nearly 6,000 units out of the County, into city boundaries– conserving more than 56,000 acres in sending areas. Beyond land conservation, compact development supports sustainable water usage and transportation choices.

2023 Urban3 - TDR Study
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Stay up to speed with the Community Planning program and potential of a revamped Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program.


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