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Kitsap County, Washington

Kitsap County, population 232,000, lies across Puget Sound from Seattle and includes the cities of Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. Considering its proximity to Seattle, much of the County remains remarkably rural. In December 2006, the County adopted a TDR ordinance as part of an update of its comprehensive plan, development regulations and zoning. As of early 2007, no transfers had occurred.

The Kitsap County TDR ordinance is intended to provide flexibility, preserve critical areas, watershed and open space, increase equalization of property values between zones and generally implement the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.

The TDR ordinance is intended to provide flexibility, preserve critical areas, watershed and open space, increase equalization of property values between zones and generally implement the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.

Sending areas are sites that qualify according to the Comprehensive Plan. All land designated as rural and zoned Rural Wooded, Rural Residential, Rural Protection or Forest Resource can qualify based on the density permitted by their zoning. In addition the County Board can add sending areas by changing the Comprehensive Plan or the County Code.

Receiving areas must be located within urban growth areas. In addition to sites that qualify based on the Comprehensive Plan, the County Board can add areas via plan or code amendments as long as the areas are appropriate for higher density, not limited by significant critical areas and not expected to cause significant adverse effects to surrounding properties.

TDRs are required under the following four circumstances.

· TDRs are required for site-specific comprehensive plan amendments that permit higher density. TDRs purchased for these site-specific comprehensive plan amendments may be applied toward future rezoning requests consistent with the new comprehensive plan designation. The TDR requirements are as follows

  • Residential to Higher-Density Residential: 1 TDR per acre
  • Residential to Urban Commercial: 2 TDRs per acre
  • Residential to Urban Industrial: 1 TDR per acre.

· TDRs are required for rezonings to higher residential density as follows

  • Residential to Higher-Density Residential: 1 TDR per acre per zone increase (such as Urban Low to Urban Medium)
  • Commercial to Higher-Intensity Commercial: 1 TDR per acre per zone increase.
  • Residential to Urban Industrial: 1 TDR per acre

· The County Board may require TDRs for expansions of urban growth areas.

· Incorporated cities may accept TDRs from sending areas under County jurisdiction using transfer ratios established by the County and the city.

To determine the number of TDRs available to a sending site, gross acreage is reduced by the land area in conservation easements and rights of way or below the high water mark of water bodies as well as the acreage needed for each dwelling unit existing on the parcel. The number of TDRs is calculated by dividing this net land area by the acreage required for a single dwelling unit according to the zoning designation of the sending site.

In contrast with most TDR programs, the deed restriction placed on a sending site is not permanent but rather for a period of 40 years. Similarly, sending site owners who have transferred TDRs may restore the development potential to the maximum density allowed by zoning by purchasing TDRs in accordance with the TDR ordinance. Finally, if a sending site from which TDRs have been transferred is subsequently included within an urban growth area, the development rights are “automatically” reinstituted for development at urban densities.