Cecil County, population 100,000, lies in the northeast corner of Maryland, 40 miles southwest of downtown Philadelphia. To implement farmland preservation goals in its Comprehensive Plan, the County appointed a citizen committee in 2002. This effort culminated in the adoption of a TDR ordinance in 2006. The ordinance is intended to encourage the preservation of natural resources and facilitate orderly growth as well as promote a more creative approach to land development.
Cecil County, Maryland adopted a TDR ordinance to preserve land in its agricultural areas.
To qualify as a sending site, parcels must meet minimum criteria for prime soils, woodlands and floodplains/wetlands, be at least 50 acres in size and be zoned Northern Agricultural Residential (NAR) or Southern Agricultural Residential (SAR). In the NAR, major subdivisions are limited to densities ranging from one unit per three acres to one unit per ten acres depending on site size and the amount of common open space proposed. In the SAR, major subdivisions are limited to densities ranging from one unit per five acres to one unit per 20 acres depending on site size and the amount of common open space proposed.
To qualify for TDRs, the sending site landowner must record an easement that prohibits all future subdivision unless some acreage is withheld. Sending area landowners may transfer one TDR per five acres in the NAR and one TDR per three acres in the SAR.
To qualify as receiving sites, parcels must be at least ten acres in size, zoned Suburban Residential (SR), Development Residential (DR) or Town Residential (TR) and served by community facilities. Under the TDR option, maximum density can be increased to four dwelling units in the SR zone, 12 units per acre in the DR zone and six units per acre in the TR zone. Receiving site developments can include apartments, duplexes and semi-detached units as well as single family units. But the Cecil County ordinance controls the maximum percentage of semi-detached, duplex and apartment units that can occur in each development. The ordinance provides special development requirements for projects using the TDR option including open space requirements, parking, the number of townhouse dwelling units per building block and the maximum length of apartment buildings as well as the proximity of apartment buildings to property lines and each other.
The Cecil County ordinance allows inter-jurisdictional transfers if incorporated municipalities adopt mechanisms to allow these transfers from sending areas under County jurisdiction to receiving areas under city jurisdiction.