The Pierce County Council voted 7-0 today to establish a transfer-of-development-rights program. It’s a far-reaching and progressive land-use move that our editorial board has strongly supported (Latest one here).
The unanimous vote was a surprise. Even the program’s strongest skeptic, Councilman Roger Bush, R-Graham, went along, although he did express misgivings. In recent weeks the building industry sought to weaken the plan, but no damaging amendments were approved today.
As a longtime observer of the county’s land-use battles, this move strikes me as one of the biggest wins in a long time for smart-growth advocates. Key support for the plan came from Councilman Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, whose backing was crucial for getting the plan out of committee.
Although I didn’t hear this directly from Muri, I’m told that as a Republican, he liked the market-driven principles behind TDR. The idea is to create a market in which developers seeking to build greater density in developed areas can buy development rights from farmers or timber owners. This gives rural landowners a way to extract value from their property without having to sell it for development.