Nibley Transfer of Development Rights Program

How Can We Preserve Our Rural Heritage as Development Pressure Increases?

In March 2023, Nibley City adopted a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Ordinance. With the continued pressure to allow agricultural and open space lands to develop, the character of the community we love is changing. Farmers often see development of their property as their “retirement plan.” When the time comes, they develop their farm into a subdivision or sell their property for development purposes. It is difficult for a city to refuse to change a farmer’s zoning to allow a subdivision if they have allowed development in many similar situations.

Many communities have concerns about rural heritage/character preservation. There are several tools in use across the Country and in Utah that communities can consider to address the question, “How do we hold onto the features, the open spaces, and the farms that create our sense of community?”

Transfer of Development Rights is one tool to help preserve open spaces, which often define our rural heritage. Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a zoning tool that helps to preserve the character of a community by assigning development rights to properties intended for preservation that can be transferred to an area where more density is acceptable.  TDR provides a new property right, one that landowners do not have now. In a TDR system, the development rights attached to a property that the community wants to preserve can be purchased by a developer in a private, market-based negotiation for use in another part of the community. The land that the development rights are purchased from are permanently preserved for farming or some other open space purpose.  TDR is a totally voluntary process where the City simply sets up the framework for a private transaction (e.g., developer/farmer negotiation) through an ordinance.

Sending Areas (Example: productive agricultural land)

Receiving Areas (Example: areas contiguous to major development clusters or planned centers)

Nibley City Residents responded to a survey, showing an interest in retaining the rural heritage and character of our community.  During the 2022 Heritage Days Festival, residents placed colored dots on a map reflecting where they thought more growth could occur and where they thought preservation was important. Community sentiment favors the concept of TDR and the general idea that saving diminishing agricultural lands and open spaces is worth pursuing.

The adopted ordinance can be found in Nibley City Code 19.48, which enables TDR transactions within Nibley City. The City Council also adopted a TDR overlay zone map, designating sending and receiving overlay zones. For any questions or comments regarding the TDR ordinance, please contact Levi Roberts at [email protected].