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Honey Brook Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania

Honey Brook, population 6,278 (2000), lies in the northwest corner of Chester County, 40 miles west of Philadelphia. Despite its proximity to large cities, the Township has retained much of its farmland and rural character, assets that the Honey Brook strives to preserve through its TDR program.

Honey Brook Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, uses TDR to save farmland and rural character.

The sending area is any parcel five acres or larger in the Agricultural District. This zone includes roughly 9,000 acres of land in the Township. Single-family dwellings in the Agricultural District require ten acres of land unless development occurs under the conservation design option, which allows an average density of one unit per two acres. To determine the number of development rights available to a sending site, the area occupied by floodplains, steep slopes, wetlands, riparian corridors and surface water is deducted from gross tract area. In addition, two acres are deducted for each dwelling unit, the actual size of any portion of the tract used for non-farm purposes and any land restricted from development by easement. The remaining acreage is multiplied by 0.54 to calculate the TDRs available for transfer. TDRs are created by the recording of a conservation easement that permanently restricts future use of the property to farming. Owners may sever some or all of their development rights. The TDR code section allows the Township to purchase severed development rights or accept donated TDRs and to retire or resell them.

TDR receiving sites include properties zoned FR-Farm Residential, R-Residential, MR-Mixed Residential, C-Commercial or I-Industrial. Each of these districts contains its own baseline density/intensity and the maximum density/intensity allowed when the TDR option is used. For example, minimum lot size in the FR District for development on septic systems is 60,000 square feet without the use of TDR versus one acre with the use of TDR. For residential bonus density, each TDR allows 1.1 bonus single-family detached units, 1.25 extra two-family, townhouse or quadraplex units or 1.5 bonus apartment units. For non-residential bonus intensity, each TDR allows 2,500 extra square feet of impervious surface coverage or 2,500 extra square feet of floor area (via increased building height). TDR receiving development must comply with all normally applicable development requirements. However, area and bulk modifications of up to 25 percent can be granted to requirements can be granted to projects using 20 or more TDRs through the conditional use process, which is also used to approve the transfer itself.

In April 2006, Michael Brown, Township Manager, reported that 145 TDRs had been certified representing 290 acres of farmland. Of these certified TDRs, 29 had been transferred to three receiving area properties and receiving sites had not yet been found for the remaining 116 certified TDRs.