Honey Brook Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania

Honey Brook, population 8,311 (2018), lies in the northwest corner of Chester County, 40 miles west of Philadelphia. Despite its proximity to large cities, the Township has retained much of its farmland. The TDR program aims to protect agricultural land, watersheds, natural areas and community character.

Honey Brook Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, uses TDR to save farmland and rural character.

The sending areas include parcels ten acres or larger in the Agricultural District (A) and parcels of ten or more acres or lots of record smaller than 10 acres in the Resource Conservation District (RC).

To determine the number of development rights available to a sending site, applicants deduct acreage within the Flood Hazard District, Steep Slope Conservation District, and Riparian Corridor Conservation District as well as wetlands, lakes, ponds and areas restricted from development by covenant, easement or deed restriction. The available TDRs are calculated by multiplying the remaining acreage by 0.54 for sending sites in the A zone and 0.5 for land zoned RC. Other calculations are made for lots of record smaller than ten acres zoned RC.

The Township Board of Supervisors certifies the number of TDRs allocated. To proceed, the sending site owner records a permanent conservation easement and the certified TDRs are severed by deed of transferable rights, which must specify whether the TDRs are being retained by the sending site owner or being transferred directly to a receiving site, to the Township, or to an intermediary.

TDRs can be used to increase residential density or non-residential intensity in receiving areas zone MUR, MUC, or BI. One TDR allows baseline residential density to be exceeded by 1.1 single-family units, 1.3 two-family units, 1.5 townhouse units, 1.7 quad units or 2.0 apartment units. These bonuses are increased by 50 percent for units restricted to persons over 55 years of age or units qualified as workforce housing.

In the MUR zone, each TDR yields an additional 5,000 square feet of impervious surface coverage or 5,000 square feet of bonus floor area attainable through an increase in baseline building height. These bonuses increase to 6,000 square feet for receiving sites zoned MUC or BI. Receiving site projects must meet other development standards of their applicable zones however the Board of Supervisors may grant additional exceptions to projects using at least five TDR via conditional use permit.

In April 2006, Michael Brown, Township Manager, reported that 145 TDRs had been certified representing 290 acres of farmland. In October 2012, John Theilacker, Associate Director of the Environmental Management Center of the Brandywine Conservancy, reported that 253 TDRs had been certified as of 2011. Of that total, 29 TDRs were ultimately transferred, preserving 58 acres. Of the 29 transferred TDRs, 18 were used in a townhouse development and 11 were used in an industrial development.