Porterdale not interested in Transfer of Development Rights program

PORTERDALE - The county's exploration of a proposed Transfer of Development Rights program doesn't interest the city of Porterdale right now. That was the consensus reached Tuesday night at a City Council work session.

Scott Sirotkin, senior planner for the county's Planning and Development Department, spoke to the council regarding the county's proposed ordinance on TDRs as a way of gauging the city's interest in participation in such a program. Sirotkin told the council that TDRs are designed to address growth while preserving the rural areas of the county.

A TDR program allows property owners to separate their development rights from properties designated as low-density areas and sell them to developers in areas designated for higher density. Once the development rights are sold, the low-density property is placed under a permanent conservation easement. Sirotkin said the program serves to preserve areas designated as more rural, with the costs of preservation borne by the developers who purchase the development rights in exchange for greater density.

Councilwoman Kay Piper pointed out that Porterdale and the western side of Newton County already have seen too much growth. She said she fears a TDR program will send more development to the western side of the county.

Sirotkin acknowledged her concerns, saying that what she described is a likely scenario.

"That was the first concern that most people had when they looked at this program, that we would exacerbate the problem," Sirotkin said.

Sirotkin pointed out that the areas designated to receive transferred development rights can be specifically targeted, which can have the benefit of reducing the need for new infrastructure and can help to revitalize blighted areas within a jurisdiction.

Piper said a TDR program would be useful to help improve blighted areas, but reiterated her concern about pushing more development to the west side of the county.

Councilwoman Linda Finger said a TDR program looks good for the county, but not for Porterdale.

"I just don't think it's something that Porderdale needs right now," Finger said.

Sirotkin said he would revisit the issue with the council in a year. "Let's keep the lines of communication open," he said.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@newtoncitizen.com.