Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oconee County Received Responses From Two Applicants To Develop Transfer of Development Rights Program

After Four Years Of Inaction

More than four years after the Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward on a Transfer of Development Rights program, the county has finally advertized for and received applications from consultants who have said they would like to work with the county on the project.

Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Range Planning for the county, told the Citizens Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning last night that the county had received responses from Rick Pruetz of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Ross and Associates of Atlanta.

The two consultants were responding to a Request for Qualifications that the county issued last month. Provost said the two seemed to meet the basic qualifications for submitting a proposal, should the Board of Commissioners decide to go forward with the project.

Provost provided a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of going forward, saying he did not think anyone had “figured out” how to make a TDR program work in Georgia.

According to the web site of Milton in North Fulton County, that city has an active TDR program that was passed on June 18, 2012.

Contrast In Views

Provost’s negative view contrasts with the conclusions of a study committee appointed by the Board of Commissioners to examine the feasibility of such a program for Oconee County.

That group reported to the BOC on Jan. 27, 2009, that “Oconee County appears to be well suited for a successful TDR program.” It also said landowners, developers, taxpayers and county officials “could benefit greatly from a well-designed TDR program.”

A TDR program would designate certain areas of the county as appropriate for future growth and certain areas that would be better left undeveloped. The former would be classified as receiving areas, and the latter as sending areas.

Someone in the receiving areas would purchase the development rights from a landowner in the sending area.

A developer in the receiving area, by buying the development rights, would be able to develop more densely or in some more favorable way.

The land owner in the sending area would agree to place deed restrictions on the land that would limit future development.

BOC Instructed Provost In 2009

After receiving the TDR Committee final report in 2009, the BOC instructed Provost and the Committee “to move forward with a detailed scope of work and the generation of a request for proposal for a TDR consultant,” according to the minutes of that meeting.

Russ Page, a member of that the TDR Committee and an advocate for farmland protection, has been the lone voice publicly pushing for action since that time.

Provost gave an overview of the project to the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee at its Nov. 13, 2012, meeting.

Committee member Tammy Gilland asked Provost for an update last night, prompting his comments about the two responses to the request for qualifications.

Provost said he had hoped for seven or eight applicants, but he added that it was a special area of expertise without a large number of qualified individuals.

The full three-minute video of the discussion of TDR programs is below.


Xardox said...

No one has figured out how to make it work, eh? At least such frivolous and silly wastes of time haven't been implemented from our pocketbooks any more than dreaming up programs and presentations.

Anonymous said...

I was just 1 of 14 Oconee CO citizens who studied the Transfer of Development Rights programs for over 6 months. There are many successful TDR programs in other states, and one new one Georgia. The most successful TDR program in the country is in Montgomery Co MD. Their TDR program was started over 33 years ago, and has protected over 50,000 Ac of farmland in that county. Montgomery Co MD has protected over 70,000 Ac using the TDR and other programs, so the TDR program is their most productive program for protecting farmland. Oconee Co has perhaps the most successful and longest lasting farmland protection program in Georgia. The Oconee Co farmland protection program has acquired funds from the Georgia Greenspace Program, the USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, farmer donations, private and business donations to help protect farmland in Oconee Co. Local funding for farmland protection has come from being a budget item on the Oconee Co budget, and now from being a separate item on the 2009 SPLOST. Can we match the efforts of Montgomery Co MD? No, not at all, but with a TDR program in place Oconee Co’s farmland protection program could be more sustainable, and more productive. The 14 Oconee Co citizens on the “Stakeholders” TDR advisory committee, did not find the TDR process to be frivolous or silly, in fact the committee unanimously recommended that Oconee Co hire a noted professional in TDR’s to do a feasibility study, and set up a TDR program for our county. This was in 2009, we are still waiting. When we made the recommendation, development was at a stand still. That was the perfect time to do the study, and start the program. It will be harder now to get it done before rapid development makes it difficult to put in place. The BOC members have been made aware of this several times, and still are dragging their collective feet. The whole idea behind farmland protection and a TDR program is to direct development to certain areas, so that the best farmland is preserved and remains available to produce food for us all. This does not prohibit development, and a good TDR program will benefit all of us, developers, farmers, Oconee Co citizens and Oconee Co future. If it does not benefit all, it will never be used. That is why the county needs to hire the best person, and do it right.

Thank you, Russ Page.