Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Mount Joy, population 7,944 (2000), lies in the northwest corner of Lancaster County, 20 miles southeast of Harrisburg. Like much of Lancaster County, the Township has a rich agricultural heritage which many residents want to save. The owners of over thirty farms in Mount Joy have permanently preserved their land through a purchase of development rights program run by Lancaster County and Pennsylvania. Most of these preserved properties are located along Little Chickies Creek on the east Township border and along Elizabethtown Road. Several historic resources are also intact, including the three-story Horst- Risser Mill. Protected natural areas in Mount Joy include the Bellair Woods Preserve, known for magnificent displays of spring wildflowers.

Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, uses TDR to save environmental areas and important agricultural land, like this farm preserved by the Lancaster Farmland Trust.

Mount Joy’s TDR code section has three purposes: 1) preserve important farmland and sensitive environmental areas, 2) direct development to locations with public water and sewerage, and 3) allow landowners a method of compensation for voluntarily preserving their land.

Sending sites must be in the A, CR or R zoning districts. The number of TDRs available for transfer is determined by a yield plan submitted by the applicant for the receiving site development. The yield plan depicts the number of units that could be built on the sending site in compliance with all codes. The Zoning Officer must determine whether the yield plan is accurate. The sending site landowner may transfer some or all of the TDRs from the site. A transfer ratio of five applies only to sending site zoned A. In other words, for each dwelling unit precluded by a conservation easement on a sending site in the A district, five bonus units may be built at a receiving site. A one-to-one transfer ratio applies to sending sites in the CR and R zoning districts.

Receiving sites must be zoned R-1, R-2 or R-3 and served by public water and sewer systems. The applicant submits a yield plan for the proposed site. If approved by the Zoning Officer, the number of units depicted on the yield plan forms the site’s baseline density. For each TDR transferred, one bonus unit is permitted up to the following lot area and density maximums.

  • In the R-1 zone, minimum lot area may be reduced from 20,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.
  • In the R-2, single-family residential unit minimum lot size may be reduced from 15,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet and attached unit density may not exceed six units per acre.
  • In the R-3, single-family residential unit minimum lot size may be reduced from 10,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet and attached unit density may not exceed eight units per acre.

The ordinance allows development rights to be purchased by or donated to the Township, Lancaster County or a private conservancy. However, these development rights must be used on a receiving site property within ten years of acquisition.

In an April 2006 message, Roger Powl, Zoning Officer, reported that the TDR provisions had not yet been used.