East Vincent Township, population 5,493, is located in northeastern Chester County, roughly 25 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia. The Township is still largely agricultural and retains much of its rural character including the French Creek stream corridor that it shares with West Vincent Township.
East Vincent uses TDR to preserve farmland, sensitive natural areas and rural community character, like the covered bridges that cross French Creek.
The Township has adopted a TDR program designed to preserve prime farmland, sensitive natural areas and rural community character. Sending sites must be located within the AP or RC zoning districts, which together cover more than half of the Township’s land area. When a sending site owner elects to use the TDR option, at least 80 percent of the parcel must be permanently preserved and any unrestricted parcel portion must be useable under use, area, dimensional, performance and other code standards. Each sending parcel must retain ay least one development right. To qualify for TDRs, the easement must permanently restrict the parcel from future development for any purpose other than agriculture, public park land, conservation and similar uses. One of these allowed uses is single-family residences at a maximum density of one unit per 20 acres.
The number of TDRs available for transfer from a sending site is calculated by subtracting half of the on-site acreage consisting of floodplains, wetlands steep slopes and all of the acreage already restricted against development by covenant, easement or deed restriction. The remainder is multiplied by 0.51 and retained development rights are subtracted to determine the number of TDRs that the sending site owner can transfer following recordation of permanent development restrictions.
Parcels zoned LR, MR, HR, GC, GI or PO can be approved as receiving sites by conditional use permit (CUP). The maximum density allowed via TDR varies between these zoning districts. The bonus development allowed per TDR also varies depending on the nature of the bonus dwelling unit: one TDR yields 1.25 single family detached dwelling units, 1.5 attached units, 2.0 multi-family units or 2.5 mobile home units. These conversion ratios increase even more for age-restricted units. The code allows projects using TDR to reduce open space as density increases but maintains a minimum open space requirement of 25 percent of the gross tract area. In addition, through conditional use permit approval, projects incorporating five or more TDRs in the GC, GI or PO districts can receive modifications to lot coverage and height limitations by securing additional TDRs. Specifically, impervious coverage can be increased by 5,000 square feet for each development right (subject to soil tests verifying ability to comply with storm water management requirements.) Each TDR allows height limits to be exceeded for 2,500 square feet of floor area; but regardless of the use of TDR, no building can exceed 3.5 stories or 50 feet in height.