Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

Middle Smithfield Township, population 11,495 (2000), lies 60 miles west of New York City along the western bank of the Delaware River in eastern Pennsylvania. Middle Smithfield is popular for vacations and second homes given its access to the eastern megalopolis and its numerous outdoor recreation opportunities including ski resorts and a portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  In September 2005, Middle Smithfield adopted a TDR ordinance designed to preserve important farmland and environmentally sensitive areas.

Sending sites can be any parcel at least ten acres in size located within any zoning district. Owners interested in transferring their development rights submit a yield plan depicting the number of units that can be placed on the sending site given regulations and site characteristics such as wetlands, floodplains and steep slopes. Septic system soil tests are not required but the Township does not allow applicants to assume the use of septic systems in areas with obvious severe limitations. The applicant can decide whether to preclude some or all of the site’s development potential via a permanent conservation easement.

Sending site owners can sell or donate severed rights directly to a developer, to the Township or to a non-profit corporation with a preservation mission. Development rights can be held by intermediaries no more the ten years before being used on a receiving site.

Receiving sites can be located within any zoning districts with the exception of the C, CON or CR districts. Baseline density is the number of units that the site could accommodate without the use of TDR as determined by a yield plan as described above. The development potential of the receiving site can be increased by the number of rights transferred from the sending site subject to the following limitations.

  • If the receiving site is not served by central water and sewer, no receiving site lot can be smaller than one acre or have a lot width less than 150 feet.
  • Even with central water and sewer, receiving site lots in the LDR and H districts cannot be smaller than one acre or have a lot width less than 150 feet.
  • In districts other than the LDR or H districts that are served by central water and sewer, single family residential lots cannot be smaller than 10,000 square feet and cannot have a lot width smaller than 80 feet. The lot area for allowed dwelling units other than single family residential can be as small as 6,000 square feet.

Otherwise, receiving site projects must comply with all Township requirements and are processed like development applications that do not involve transferred rights.

Receiving site projects are given preliminary approval with the condition that the applicant record the required conservation easement on the sending site prior to or concurrent with recording of the final plan for the receiving site. The easement is written so that it is binding only upon final approval of the receiving site plan.