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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Resolution of Arlington County Civic Federation:

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR's) Policy

Approved unanimously on November 14, 2006

See also this resolution adopted February 7, 2006

Whereas the County Board is considering adopting policy guidelines related to a zoning ordinance amendment adopted in February 2006 that implements recently enacted State legislation that authorizes the transfer of density rights within Arlington County;

Whereas TDRs have the potential to aid in preservation of historic resources, open space, and affordable housing;

Whereas the Arlington County Civic Federation in February 2006 adopted a resolution with respect to such transfers that sought more information and community discussion and expressed concern about TDRs involving publicly owned parcels;

Whereas further community discussion has since taken place in light of several draft staff proposals;

Whereas the Federation remains concerned that the County Board may adopt guidelines that allow transfer of density from one part of the County to another part, even though the receiving area opposes the additional density, pitting one neighborhood against another;

Whereas the Federation remains concerned that the County Board may adopt guidelines that would allow the transfer and effective sale of �unused� density from publicly owned property, including parks and schools, or from parcels that would be unlikely to develop otherwise;

Whereas planning areas such as the Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square and Ballston sector plans, the Pentagon City and Shirlington PDSPs, and the Crystal City site plan review areas (as well as, possibly, certain specific other revitalization districts, station areas and PDSPs) constitute pre-defined geographic areas that have already been subject to policy planning study that can provide adequate policy context for TDR applications;

Whereas such pre-defined geographic planning areas constitute communities of small enough size that TDRs within them would not pit one neighborhood against another; and

Whereas transfers of density to within 165 feet of a low-density residential area, even if it happens to be within such a pre-defined planning area, would disrupt residential neighborhood character:


1) Supports a TDR policy, but only within, but not between, each pre-defined geographic planning area (that is, sector plan area, station area, or designated revitalization district, or designated PDSP),[1] and provided that such density would not travel to a site within 165 feet of a low-density residential area.

2) Supports TDRs within those pre-defined geographic areas but only for the purpose of enhancing the stock of affordable housing, preserving previously identified historic buildings or historic frontages, and acquiring land previously identified in County plans for open space.

3) Supports a TDR policy development framework such that TDRs would not be applied (either sending or receiving) outside of those pre-defined geographic planning areas until the conclusion of an appropriate community discussion focused specifically on use of TDRs outside those areas (after the adoption of a TDR policy limited only to those areas).[2]

4) Opposes the transfer of development rights from existing publicly owned parcels, or any other parcel unlikely to develop in the absence of TDR.

5) Recommends that the support of the affected civic association(s) be one of the principal factors considered by the County Board in deciding whether to approve any particular TDR.

Footnotes (Footnotes are an integral part of the resolution)

[1] Transfers �within, but not between� means that density could be transferred within a planning area (e.g., between sites within the Rosslyn Sector Plan area), but not between planning areas (e.g., not from Rosslyn to Ballston or Crystal City).

[2]The Federation expects the community discussion for application of TDRs to areas outside of the pre-defined geographic planning areas to include consideration of specialized policy elements such as, for example, that sending and receiving sites be no greater than one quarter mile apart and/or that both sites generally be within the same civic association area in order to be eligible, and that sending and receiving areas would have the same GLUP designation.

This page was last revised on: November 19, 2006.
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