Fruita, population 4,045 (2000), lies next to Interstate 70 and the Colorado River, 12 miles west of the City of Grand Junction in Mesa County. It serves as the gateway to the Colorado National Monument. In 2000, Mesa County adopted a land development code that allows property owners to sell transferable development credits (TDCs) as an incentive to deed restrict agricultural land, forests and environmentally sensitive areas for at least 40 years. No transfers have occurred so far under the original Mesa County program.
In 2002, Mesa County and the City of Fruita entered into a Transfer of Development Rights/Credits Program Agreement. This Agreement spells out the conditions under which TDRs can be transferred from sending areas under Mesa County jurisdiction to receiving areas under the jurisdiction of the City of Fruita.
Ten criteria apply to sending areas in the Fruita TDR program, including the following. 1) Sending areas must be located within the Mesa County Agricultural/Forestry/Transition (AFT), (which forms a community separator on the east side of the City one mile wide and nine miles long) or an Urban residential zoning district within one mile of the City’s proposed 201 sewer Service Area as identified in the 2002 Fruita Community Plan. 2) The sending site should either include prime farmland soils or consist of sensitive lands (ridgelines, wetlands, wildlife habitat and steep slopes.) 3) Sending sites must have a minimum of 20 acres. 4) The allocation rate is one TDC per five acres of land placed under deed restriction. 5) The sending site owner may retain some development potential and build on the sending site under cluster development provisions.
Two zoning districts serve as the receiving areas in this program: Rural Residential and Community Residential. The density allowed under current zoning establishes the base density. For each TDC purchased, developers are allowed an additional 2.5 dwelling units in excess of base density. The use of TDC is approved by PUD and Fruita’s development review process. In the Rural Residential zone, base density is three acres per unit without sewer and two acres per unit with sewer; the bonus density is up to one dwelling unit per half-acre with sewer. In the Community Residential zone, the base density is two dwelling units per acre and bonus density is up to four dwelling units per acre. PUDs using bonus density must be compatible with adjacent land uses.
In February 2005, Keith Fife Director of Long Range Planning for Mesa County, reported that no transactions had occurred to date although several parties expressed interest. The County and the City were also considering possible program revisions at that time.