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Development credits pitched as equalizer

Transfer of development credits might be the best tool to preserve farmland in Mountain View County without unfairly penalizing some landowners, county officials heard at roundtable sessions in Carstairs last week.

Transfer of development credits might be the best tool to preserve farmland in Mountain View County without unfairly penalizing some landowners, county officials heard at roundtable sessions in Carstairs last week.ìGrowth centres are a good receiving area for transfer credits,î Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere said during the summaries of residents' comments at the third of four community consultations on the MVC Municipal Development Plan.Still in its infancy as a provincial land-use mechanism, transfer of development credits could allow property owners in areas where subdivisions are restricted to ìsell (credits) to people in areas where they allow more density,î Kemmere explained.Participants at roundtables focused on agriculture endorsed the same idea, Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good reported at the workshop.ìThere should be development credits where, if you don't have the right to subdivide, you can still sell to people on more marginal land ñ so you're not penalized for not having marginal land.îOne participant suggested the option should be available only to landowners who have farmed for more than 10 years and live in the county, who would then receive one credit that could be sold to a developer in a growth centre.Development credits have been used by communities in the U.S. to balance growth with communities' wishes to preserve valued landscapes, the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies says on its website.ìTDC programs allow municipalities to direct development away from areas which are threatened by it, and toward more suitable areas, using a municipal planning framework that allows development potential to be bought and sold on the open market,î says the institute, which hosted a workshop on the concept with Red Deer County in 2008.Under the TDC model, ìlandowners in designated ësending areas' are able to sever and sell their development potential to landowner/developers in a designated ëreceiving area,' who in turn are able to increase development density beyond the base amount allowed by zoning. Sending area parcels receive long-term protection through a deed-restricting mechanism which limits certain activities.îThe province's land-use framework makes reference to development credits ìas potentially key to supporting that policy structure,î the institute says.