The TDR race?
Transfers of development rights (TDRs) are a powerful growth control tool that direct growth to areas that can handle it while offering rural land owners a chance to realize financial gain from their property without developing it.The idea is to reward property owners who want to preserve ranchland, open space and vistas, but don’t want to go to the grave land rich and cash poor.Summit County possesses a successful TDR system in the Upper Blue and a fledgling one in the Snake River Basin. The Upper Blue system has protected more than 900 acres of backcountry as open space.Today, the Board of County Commissioners and a work group of Lower Blue Basin citizens want a TDR program in place to protect that beautiful, wide open basin.The gears are turning to make this happen, but from what we saw in discussions Monday, the Lower Blue is going to need help from the rest of the county.That help comes in the form of the county allowing developed enclaves such as Keystone and Copper resorts to take TDRs from the Lower Blue. The Upper Blue’s plan works because Breckenridge agreed to take added density from the backcountry. In the Lower Blue, Silverthorne would be a logical parallel to Breckenridge but the town isn’t eager to take it, except perhaps in limited circumstances.Those limits might not make a market, which makes a TDR plan an exercise in futility.Many remember that Intrawest Corp., the owner of Copper Mountain, wanted approval of a buildout plan that would have added about 1,400 residential units. The county commissioners rejected the plan last July 12 and one of the issues was increasing density “out of thin air.”Some protesters at public hearings said Intrawest should be buying density from the backcountry. Great idea, but Intrawest was working under a different county rule book that only requires it to provide “public benefits” to win increased density.That could change – if the Lower Blue TDR plan chugs forward. Intrawest promises to rework a development plan and resubmit. Nobody, so far, sees a race between the Lower Blue TDR plan and Intrawest’s plan.We do.
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