Refunds offered for TDR owners

Canceled program has fallout costs

Keywords: Water,

Nine landowners who platted lots for 100 Transferable Development Rights in the Dolores Valley will be reimbursed for survey costs now that the program has been canceled.

After a contentious public hearing July 7, the Montezuma County commissioners voted to eliminate the TDR program from the land-use code in a 2-1 vote.

Afterward, it was decided landowners who had incurred costs setting up 10-acre lots to qualify for a TDR should be compensated.

“It is the fair thing to do,” said commissioner Larry Don Suckla. “They paid money to plat for TDRs.”

TDRs are a form of market-based zoning that caps development in environmentally sensitive areas such as river valleys. A limited amount of new building rights, approximately 620, could be bought and sold, but landowners had to first plat 10-acre plots.

In past meetings, county officials estimated average survey costs for platting TDR’s to be $700. Based on that figure, reimbursement costs paid by the county could reach $70,000.

But the exact figure is yet to be determined, said James Dietrich, public lands coordinator for the county. He has contacted each landowner with platted TDRs informing them of the rebate, and asking for documentation of costs.

“Unless people show up with evidence, we do not know what the ultimate costs will be,” Dietrich said.

When asked if the payback was a burden on taxpayers, commissioner Suckla stated, “Not in my opinion.”

He explained his belief that the benefits of canceling the program outweighed the potential financial fallout.

“TDRs are set up more for areas where billionaires live, like Pitkin County,” he said. “I feel we’re taking care of the average man, through eliminating TDRs. The problem was you could not buy them if you wanted to build another home on your property.”

Supporters of TDRs said they were necessary to control density and prevent pollution in a watershed depended on by two counties and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.

Removing the program could potentially double development in the Montezuma County portion of the Dolores River Valley and Westfork River. It reauthorizes the right for property owners to build accessory dwellings of up to 1500 square feet on a 10-acre lot.

Jane Haggerty, a landowner on the Westfork, said she platted TDRs “because that’s what they said we had to do in our area.”

She estimated the costs for her platted surveys was $1,500, and was happy for the refund, “if I can find the receipts.”

“I feel it is a fair land-use plan up here. It is still 10-acre minimum to build,” she said. “If it was a three-acre minimum, the area could be over-utilized and increase the risk of pollution in the river.”

The other land owners making up the 100 TDR platted are: Joe Silence, the Schwartz parcel, Wildcat Land and Timber, Mountain Investment, High Camp Co., Richett Enterprises, Endion West, and Stoner Ranch.