Wetlands set for inclusion in density transfer program | SummitDaily.com

Wetlands set for inclusion in density transfer program

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily file photo/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY ” The transfer of development rights (TDR) program that has prevented development on scores of mining claims in the backcountry around Breckenridge will be expanded to include sensitive wetlands.

Both the town council and the Board of County Commissioners will likely approve a new agreement next week that will make wetlands in the Upper Blue eligible to be sending areas under the TDR program.

“It hasn’t been controversial at all,” said Breckenridge planner Mark Truckey, who helped develop the TDR plan when he worked for the county. At first, the program was aimed specifically at preventing exurban sprawl in the backcountry. But the TDR program and special backcountry zoning have limited or extinguished development potential on more than two-thirds of the mining claims, Truckey said.

The county came to the town to see if there is a way the TDR program could be used to protect wetlands, Truckey said. The concept arose out of an ongoing county effort to enhance preservation of local bogs, so critical for wildlife and water quality. As part of a grant-funded look at wetlands, the county identified both high quality wetlands, and wetlands of concern. A high percentage of those wetlands are in the Upper Blue, between Breckenridge and Hoosier Pass, he explained.

With residential development rights grandfathered in the existing platted subdivisions, the wetlands in the area have long been a source of concern. Along with preserving water quality, they help even out flows from the headwaters of the Blue, absorbing water during heavy spring runoff and releasing it slowly during the drier months. That helps ensure a steady supply of water for Goose Pasture Tarn, where much of the collection for Breckenridge’s water supply takes place.

The potential for development on wetlands in the Upper Blue has been at odds with the desire to protect important wetlands. The expanded TDR program gives land owners another tool, enabling them to sell the development rights from their property to the TDR bank, Truckey said.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at 970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

Local Transfer of Development Rights programs are the way in which planners shift residential development from one part of the community to another. Planners identify sending areas (areas where development is discouraged) and receiving areas (areas where development is encouraged). Landowners in sending areas are given development rights based on density policies and criteria identified in adopted plans. They can sell those development rights to a TDR bank administered by the county. Landowners seeking to add density in a receiving area must first buy a certain amount of development rights from the TDR bank. Currently, one development right is worth $40,350.

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