Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program

Program Overview

The right to develop land for residential or commercial purposes is one of a bundle of rights associated with land ownership. The County’s TDR program allows landowners of designated sending sites to separate the right to develop land from the bundle of other property rights. Sending sites are rural or resource lands with agricultural, forest, or critical area amenities.

Through TDR, the separate right(s) are turned into a tradable commodity that can be bought and sold – just as land can be bought and sold. When a landowner chooses to separate some, or all, development rights, the property is preserved through a conservation easement. Landowners can retain development rights on their property for future use and the land remains in private ownership.

These transferable development rights or “TDRs” are typically bought by developers of designated receiving sites. In general, receiving sites are in areas eligible for increased density. The purchased TDRs give developers the ability to create additional lots in more appropriate and higher density areas.

Check out the TDR brochure 256 KB for more information about how TDRs can benefit development projects.

If you are a landowner interested in enrolling your property in the TDR program as a sending site, review sending site criteria (KCC 17.13.020) to see if your property is eligible to enroll, and download a TDR Program application.

The TDR program also has benefits for residents of Kittitas County. Land that is important to the health of the local environment and the well-being of County citizens is protected. The County, and its taxpayers, do not pay the high price to buy land outright, nor do they incur long term management costs of the land if it were put into public ownership. Land is permanently preserved and remains in private ownership and is managed by private landowners.

Development growth is focused into urban areas and away from critical rural and resource areas. This creates more efficient development patterns and makes use of urban infrastructure to reduce the amount of development in the County’s rural and resource lands. TDR acts to reduce and minimize the significant costs to the County of providing services to rural development located far from urban services

For more detailed information about the TDR program, visit the Kittitas County TDR Code (KCC 17.13).