Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bellevue moves toward embracing TDRs

Council signals intention to work with county

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council on Thursday signaled a willingness to work with Blaine County on a transfer of development rights program specific to the city as part of the county's ongoing 2025 planning efforts.

The council made the decision after listening to Blaine County planner Jeff Adams and Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman discuss how TDRs might be implemented in the county.

"We have agreed to work with the county on these issues," Bellevue Mayor Jon Anderson said.

The 2025 planning effort was sparked by the county commissioners in January 2005 to address future growth and development concerns. At that time, the county also enacted a moratorium on all subdivisions and hired Clarion Associates, a national land-use consulting firm, to conduct a public outreach campaign to determine how citizens want to direct future growth.

Blaine County's TDR program is designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas in the Bellevue Triangle by transferring development closer to the cities. The program provides incentives both for landowners who wish to sell the development rights to their lands and for developers who want to develop more densely in areas closer to municipalities.

Bellevue city attorney Jim Phillips said the biggest question mark that must be resolved is how added density in the city would be mitigated if the city agrees to accept it. Those details are still up in the air, Phillips said.

"I think it will be a fairly interesting discussion," he said. "And we'll come up with something."

During the discussion, Bellevue City Council member Chris Koch suggested other municipalities in the valley may follow Bellevue's example if the city elects to proceed with a program of accepting added density as a part of Blaine County 2025 planning efforts.

"I think we're the one's that have to lead," Koch said. "We're the one's that are going to be impacted."

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