Commissioners wrong to do away with TDRs

Just when you think that the Montezuma County Commissioners couldn’t possibly do anything more ludicrous than banning non-native species from entering the county, they did! At the public hearing Monday, July 7, they voted to abolish transferable development rights (TDRs) that were the centerpiece of the Dolores River Valley Plan.

It’s fairly obvious that the commissioners have no idea what they have just flushed down the toilet. I will agree that TDRs are a little difficult to understand.

To explain TDRs’ values and uses, here’s a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that the Lightenberger Ranch has 400 acres that qualify for TDRs. Each 10 acres is worth one TDR, giving the Lightenbergers 40 TDRs to work with. There are currently two homes on the property. With a maximum density of one residence per 10 acres, two TDRs are used, leaving 38.

Now let’s say that the Lightenbergers divide off one 10-acre parcel. This property could have only one residence under the county land use plan, but the Lightenbergers could divide this property into 10 one-acre units, and then use nine of their own TDRs, and build one house on each acre.

They could then sell each home for $250,000, perhaps making a cool $1.5 million profit.

The only drawback? The 90 acres attached to the nine TDRs could not be developed in the future, but they could still be used for what they are – pasture. The Lightenbergers could keep 390 acres of their ranch intact, make a million bucks, and still have 29 TDRs to play with, keep or sell. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too.

But the county commissioners, in their infinite wisdom, have voted to do away with TDRs.

So what options do the Lightenbergers have now? With the allowable density of one residence per 10 acres, they could subdivide 100 acres into 10-acre parcels. Which option would you prefer?

And the real irony? Don Lightenberger was one of the few people to speak against the Dolores River Valley Plan at the hearing.

Leslie Sesler