Shrewsbury Township, York County, Pennsylvania

(Profiled 11-5-20)

Shrewsbury Township, population 6,715 (2018), is located in southern York County, Pennsylvania. There are four incorporated boroughs within the township boundaries. Shrewsbury is bisected by Interstate 83 which joins the City of York, 15 miles to the north, and Baltimore, Maryland, 30 miles to the south.

Decades ago, the Township adopted a TDR program designed to protect quality farmland in a district that was then called the Agricultural Preservation District, which encompassed about 70 percent of the land area in the Township. The Agricultural Preservation District was established to protect agriculture as a viable, economic activity by generally permitting only agricultural or agricultural-related activities. This district included areas with highly productive soils and strong agricultural activity.

In the Agricultural Preservation District, residential development could not be located on quality farmland. If an owner of a property zoned Agricultural Preservation could not achieve baseline density limits without developing quality farmland, that owner could transfer the unusable development rights to agriculturally inferior land elsewhere in the Agricultural Preservation District. These transfers had to comply with one of two sets of criteria depending on whether the sending and receiving sites were under common or separate ownership. That program transferred from 20 to 25 dwelling rights primarily to woodland receiving sites unsuitable for farming.

In 2010, the township replaced the Agricultural Preservation Zone with the Agricultural Zone and modified TDR provisions. As of November 2020, the Agricultural District and TDR sections in the Township Zoning Code are dated 2015.

The subdivision of agricultural parcels remains strictly limited. The per-acre number of development rights allocated to parcels in the Ag District declines as the size of the parcel grows. For example, a parcel less than five acres is allocated one development right but a 180-acre parcel is allocated nine dwellings or one right per 20 acres.

These rights can be used on-site or transferred outside of the Agricultural District to receiving sites in the Rural Residential Receiving District or the Suburban Residential Receiving District that are served by public sewer and water. In these two zones, one TDR permits the density of townhouse and multiple-family residential projects to increase from a base of six units per acre to a maximum of eight units per acre.   

Rights may also be transferred to infill areas in the Ag District or between parcels in the Ag District under common ownership.