Snohomish, Washington

The City of Snohomish, population 9,098 (2010), is located 30 miles north of Seattle. The City is proud of its downtown, which is famous for its historic buildings including a 36-block district in the National Register of Historic Places.

In December 2011, Snohomish adopted a TDR ordinance designed to preserve land of importance to the City including resource lands, critical areas and open space.  Snohomish County must certify sending sites as eligible under the City of Snohomish TDR program. The ordinance specifically identifies 17 credits that must be extinguished before any other credits can be accepted; these are credits purchased by the Cascade Land Conservancy in 2009 from forest land in Snohomish County. (The Conservancy awarded a grant to the City to help develop the plans and codes for the Pilchuck District.)

The receiving area is within the Pilchuck District, an area near downtown Snohomish west of the Pilchuck River that currently has an eclectic mix of uses. The City has adopted a form based code to promote smart growth development in a pedestrian-friendly environment in Pilchuck. Specifically, TDR sites are within the Neighborhood Center (CTR) zone which has a baseline of three stories with a maximum of four stories allowed via TDR or a maximum of five stories in those CTR blocks designated as a Height Overlay. The TDR Ordinance has a early-use incentive. When development applications are accepted as complete prior to January 1, 2017, each TDR credit allows 18,000 square feet of bonus gross floor area by right above the third story. When development applications are accepted as complete on or after that date, each TDR credit allows 14,000 square feet of bonus gross floor area by right above the third story. When TDR credits are used within a shoreline designation, building height cannot exceed the limits of the Shoreline Master Program.

To ensure that the program keeps pace with real estate values, the TDR Ordinance requires the City to evaluate the exchange rates every five years or less.