Hopewell Township, population 17,725 (2019), lies immediately west of Princeton, New Jersey and within the New York Metropolitan Area. The Township adopted a TDR mechanism in Section 17-172j of its Land Use and Development Ordinance aimed at preserving farmland and conservation areas.
Sending areas are lands zoned Mountain Resource Conservation (MRC) and Valley Resource Conservation (VRC). The purpose of these districts is to protect environmentally sensitive areas, respect development limitations, maintain rural character, support continued agricultural activities, provide for sustainable development, safeguard surface water resources and protect groundwater quantity and quality.
Conventional subdivisions have a minimum lot size of 6 acres in the VRC and 14 acres in the MRC. Clustering development options are available but cannot produce a higher lot yield than conventional subdivisions meaning a maximum density of one unit per 6 acres in the VRC and one unit per 14 acres in the MRC. Alternatively, sending area owners may choose to use 17-172j Noncontiguous Cluster Development in the VRC-HLI District. Under this option, landowners must deed restrict their land in perpetuity for “… resource conservation uses authorized and enumerated in the sale or conveyance of the development potential.” Subsequently these owners can transfer development potential at the ratio of one dwelling unit per seven acres in the MRC and one dwelling unit per three acres in the VRC.
The receiving areas are lands designated as hamlets in the Valley Resource Conservation and Hamlet Light Industrial (VRC-HLI) district, a zone designed for mixing residential, office, retail and light industrial uses in hamlets. Residential tracts in this zone have a minimum density of 2.5 units per acres and a maximum density of 3.0 units per acre. Presumably, developers can use transferred development to exceed minimum and achieve the maximum density.
In 2016, a sending area landowner requested that the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment interpret the TDR ordinance without offering a specific draft deed restriction. As mentioned above, Section 17-172j requires landowners to deed restrict their land in perpetuity for “… resource conservation uses authorized and enumerated in the sale or conveyance of the development potential.” On March 3, the Board postponed a hearing on this request for interpretation because it was apparently not clear whether the owner was thinking of deed restricting his parcel in its current use as a golf course and, if so, whether a golf course meets the letter or spirit of the TDR program (Galioto, 2016).
Galioto, Mary. March 4, 2016. Paving the way for 255 houses in Hopewell: Kooltronic ZBA Hearing. MercerMe. Retrieved on March 4, 2016 from http://mercerme.com/paving-the-way-for-255-houses-in-hopewell-kooltronic-zba-hearing/.