Alachua County, Florida

Alachua County, Florida, population 247,336 (2010), is located in northern Florida and surrounds the City of Gainesville. In 1987, the county adopted TDR provisions aimed at preserving the environmental, cultural, and historic character of Cross Creek, the village that was the setting for many of the writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. In this program, transfers are limited to adjoining properties, using a single, unified application for a Planned Development. The 2001-2020 Comprehensive Plan provides the following explanation of the sending site as-of-right development potential and transfer opportunities. 

Sending areas in Alachua County include wetlands, habitat, hammocks, lake buffers, and bald eagle nesting areas.

  • In areas designated as wetlands, density transfers are allowed at a ratio of one unit per five acres to contiguous property.
  • In Exceptional Upland Habitat, development can occur on-site at a density of one unit per five acres but transfers are allowed at a ratio of two units per five acres to contiguous receiving sites.
  • In Hammock Zone, on-site development is limited to one unit per two acres in the Village Center and one unit per five acres in the Village Periphery but transfers can occur at the ratio of two units per five acres.
  • In Lake Buffer Areas, density transfers are allowed at the ratio of two dwelling units per five acres.
  • Bald Eagle Nesting Areas, transfers to contiguous property are permitted at a rate of two units per five acres in secondary zones and three units per five acres in primary zones.

Development rights may be transferred to receiving sites in the Village Periphery Development Area with a baseline density of one unit per five acres which can be increased to one unit per acre in order to accommodate transfers from the sending sites described above.

In 2009, Alachua County added a county-wide TDR program designed to protect environmental resources, viable agriculture, and rural landscape. TDR allocation to sending sites is the lesser of the following two options minus any dwelling units not included in the transfer:

  • The number of dwelling units allowed on the sending site; or
  • The number of upland acres on the property.

In addition, two bonus TDRs are granted per site plus one TDR per ten acres of conservation area on-site plus one TDR per 20 acres of non-conservation area on site. Sending site easements may allow the sending site owners to retain the residential density of one dwelling unit per 40 acres on agricultural land and one dwelling unit per 200 acres on conservation land (or as high as one unit per 40 acres under specified conditions such as the clustering of units to best protect environmental resources.)

The county-wide program has three types of receiving areas. 1) Non-residential development in the unincorporated area can reduce its on-site open space requirement by one acre for every 10 TDRs. 2) Any proposed amendment to expand the Urban Cluster must include a commitment to buy two TDRs per unit of the proposed increase in residential density or ten TDRs per acre of non-residential land use created. 3) By interlocal agreement, receiving areas can be located within any municipality in Alachua County.

In 1995, Wendy V. Kinser, Chief of Development Services, reported that the Cross Creek TDR mechanism had been used by several single-family developments in the past. According to officials in Alachua County’s Environmental Protection and Growth Management departments who were contacted in 2020, the Cross Creek and countywide programs had not generated any transfers since at least 2006.