John Whittum: Faulty TDR
September 8, 2010
While Routt County is seeking input to formulate an improved plan for the Transfer of Development Rights, it should begin by considering public concerns about the sprawling territory it has already mapped out for such transfers, and the obvious inadequacies of the regulations.
The currently designated land for much denser development (the so-called "receiving areas" in the TDR plan) near Steamboat Springs extends more than two miles up Elk River Road. Landowners from within city limits and out to and including the 1,000-plus acre Wheeler Ranch on the side of Copper Ridge could apply for 5-acre lot subdivisions. Some estimates of potential development on that ranch exceed 200 different parcels. Yet, the county master plan calls for new growth areas to be close to, or within, the city's urban growth boundary. Why should a sprawling suburban development now be allowed in an area that is still quite rural?
The same example also demonstrates the flawed character of the proposed regulations. Landowners in remote parts of the county ("sending areas") where potential development is almost nonexistent could apply to sell their development rights (a 7,000-acre ranch is potentially divisible into 200 35-acre lots) to the present owners of the old Wheeler place. By such a trade, agricultural land might be "preserved" in Northwest Routt or near the Wyoming border where there is no significant chance of development, but the Steamboat community could then acquire a massive suburb two miles from town. Why try to "save" unthreatened agricultural land at the cost of a poorly located suburban development?
That scenario could become a reality under the present proposal. Is that really good planning?