West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

West Hempfield, population 15,000, lies in western Lancaster County on both sides of US Highway 30, about six miles west of the City of Lancaster. It has productive farmland and a well-preserved rural character, including covered bridges at two crossings of Chickies Creek. The Township adopted a TDR program to preserve prime agricultural land, sensitive environmental areas and community character.


West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, uses TDR to save prime agricultural land, sensitive environmental areas and community character, as represented by this covered bridge over Chickies Creek.

Sending sites must be parcels that are at least 25 acres in size, outside the urban growth boundary and zoned either R (Rural Agricultural) or RR (Rural Residential). In the R zone, landowners may create and transfer five times the number of units that could be built on site by zoning. In the RR zone, the number of acres to be placed under easement is multiplied by .067. If the easement preserves only a portion of the sending site, the preservation area is not allowed to serve as required lot area for any development rights retained on the sending site. The easement limits the preserved area to agricultural uses. However, if the Township acquires title to the property, it can also be used for passive recreation.

Receiving sites must be within the urban growth boundary, served by public sewer and water and zoned R-1, R-2 or R-3. Receiving site projects in the R-1 and R-2 may gain one bonus dwelling unit per TDR acquired. In the R-3, developers can achieve 1 bonus single-family dwelling or 1.5 bonus multiple-family residential dwellings for each TDR acquired. Maximum bonus density under the TDR option is one unit in the R-1, 1.5 units in the R-2, two single-family or three multiple family residential units in the R-3.

Receiving projects must be approved as a conditional use under the Township’s Open Space Design Option. The developer must present an agreement of sale for all development rights when the application is submitted.

West Hempfield’s TDR ordinance specifically allows the Township to purchase development rights, accept development rights as gifts and resell or retire these TDRs.

In an April 2006 message, Charles Douts, Township Manager, reported that the 15 TDRs had been severed from a preserved farm. At that time a developer was looking for 30 TDRs for a proposed receiving site project. Consequently, he expected the Township to shortly experience its first transfer.