A. Pursuant to the provisions of this article, the governing body of any locality by ordinance may, in order to conserve and promote the public health, safety, and general welfare, establish procedures, methods, and standards for the transfer of development rights within its jurisdiction. Any locality adopting or amending any such transfer of development rights ordinance shall give notice and hold a public hearing in accordance with § 15.2-2204 prior to approval by the governing body.
1. The issuance and recordation of the instruments necessary to sever development rights from the sending property, to convey development rights to one or more parties, or to affix development rights to one or more receiving properties. These instruments shall be executed by the property owners of the development rights being transferred, and any lien holders of such property owners. The instruments shall identify the development rights being severed, and the sending properties or the receiving properties, as applicable;
11. An assessment of the infrastructure in the receiving area that identifies the ability of the area to accept increases in density and its plans to provide necessary utility services within any designated receiving area; and
3. The owner of such development rights to make application to the locality for a real estate tax abatement for a period up to 25 years, to compensate the owner of such development rights for the fair market value of all or part of the development rights, which shall retire the number of development rights equal to the amount of the tax abatement, and such abatement is transferable with the property;
5. The allowance for residential density to be converted to bonus density on the receiving property by (i) an increase in the residential density on the receiving property or (ii) an increase in the square feet of commercial, industrial, or other uses on the receiving property, which upon conversion shall retire the development rights so converted;
6. The receiving areas to include such urban development areas in the locality established pursuant to § 15.2-2223.1;
7. The sending properties, subsequent to severance of development rights, to generate one or more forms of renewable energy, as defined in § 56-576, subject to the provisions of the local zoning ordinance;
8. The sending properties, subsequent to severance of development rights, to produce agricultural products or forestal products, as defined in § 15.2-4302, and to include parks, campgrounds and related camping facilities; however, for purposes of this subdivision, “campgrounds” does not include use by travel trailers, motor homes, and similar vehicular type structures;
12. A requirement that development comply with any locality-adopted neighborhood design standards identified in the comprehensive plan for the receiving area in which the development shall occur, provided such design standard was adopted in the comprehensive plan and applied to the receiving area prior to the transfer of the development right.
D. The locality may, by ordinance, designate receiving areas or receiving properties, or add to, supplement, or amend its designations of receiving areas or receiving properties, so long as the development rights permitted to be attached in the receiving areas are equal to or greater than the development rights permitted to be severed in the sending areas.
E. Any proposed severance or transfer of development rights shall only be initiated upon application by the property owners of the sending properties, development rights, or receiving properties as otherwise provided herein.
G. The owner of a property may sever development rights from the sending property, pursuant to the provisions of this act. An application to transfer development rights to one or more receiving properties, for the purpose of affixing such rights thereto, shall only be initiated upon application by the owner of such development rights and the owners of the receiving properties.
H. Development rights severed pursuant to this article shall be interests in real property and shall be considered as such for purposes of conveyance and taxation. Once a deed for transferable development rights, created pursuant to this act, has been recorded in the land records of the office of the circuit court clerk for the locality to reflect the transferable development rights sold, conveyed, or otherwise transferred by the owner of the sending property, the development rights shall vest in the grantee and may be transferred by such grantee to a successor in interest. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the owner of the sending property from recording a deed covenant against the sending property severing the development rights on said property, with the owner of the sending property retaining ownership of the severed development rights. Any transfer of the development rights to a property in a receiving area shall be in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance adopted pursuant to this article.
I. For the purposes of ad valorem real property taxation, the value of a transferable development right shall be deemed appurtenant to the sending property until the transferable development right is severed from and recorded as a distinct interest in real property, or the transferable development right is used at a receiving property and becomes appurtenant thereto. Once a transferable development right is severed from the sending property, the assessment of the fee interest in the sending property shall reflect any change in the fair market value that results from the inability of the owner of the fee interest to use such property for such uses terminated by the severance of the transferable development right. Upon severance from the sending property and recordation as a distinct interest in real property, the transferable development right shall be assessed at its fair market value on a separate real estate tax bill sent to the owner of said development right as taxable real estate in accordance with Article 1 (§ 58.1-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1. The development right shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the sending property is located, until such time as the development right becomes attached to a receiving property, at which time it shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the receiving property is located.
J. The owner of a sending property from which development rights are severed shall provide a copy of the instrument, showing the deed book and page number, or instrument or GPIN, to the real estate tax assessor for the locality.
L. No amendment to the zoning map, nor any amendments to the text of the zoning ordinance with respect to the zoning district applicable thereto initiated by the governing body, which eliminate, or materially restrict, reduce, or downzone the uses, or the density of uses permitted in the zoning district applicable to any property to which development rights have been transferred, shall be effective with respect to such property unless there has been mistake, fraud, or a material change in circumstances substantially affecting the public health, safety, or welfare.
M. A county adopting an ordinance pursuant to this article may designate eligible receiving areas in any incorporated town within such county, if the governing body of the town has also amended its zoning ordinance to designate the same areas as eligible to receive density being transferred from sending areas in the county. The development right shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the sending property is located, until such time as the development right becomes attached to a receiving property, at which time it shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the receiving property is located.
N. Any county and an adjacent city may enter voluntarily into an agreement to permit the county to designate eligible receiving areas in the city if the governing body of the city has also amended its zoning ordinance to designate the same areas as eligible to receive density being transferred from sending areas in the county. The city council shall designate areas it deems suitable as receiving areas and shall designate the maximum increases in density in each such receiving area. However, if any such agreement contains any provision addressing any issue provided for in Chapter 32 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.), 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.), 36 (§ 15.2-3600 et seq.), 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.), 39 (§ 15.2-3900 et seq.), or 41 (§ 15.2-4100 et seq.), the agreement shall be subject to the review and implementation process established by Chapter 34 (§ 15.2-3400 et seq.). The development right shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the sending property is located, until such time as the development right becomes attached to a receiving property, at which time it shall be taxed as taxable real estate by the local jurisdiction where the receiving property is located.
1. The terms and conditions of the density transfer agreement as provided in this subsection shall be determined by the affected localities and shall be approved by the governing body of each locality participating in the agreement, provided the governing body of each such locality first holds a public hearing, which shall be advertised once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality.
2. The governing bodies shall petition a circuit court having jurisdiction in one or more of the localities for an order affirming the proposed agreement. The circuit court shall be limited in its decision to either affirming or denying the agreement and shall have no authority, without the express approval of each local governing body, to amend or change the terms or conditions of the agreement, but shall have the authority to validate the agreement and give it full force and effect. The circuit court shall affirm the agreement unless the court finds either that the agreement is contrary to the best interests of the Commonwealth or that it is not in the best interests of each of the parties thereto.
3. The agreement shall not become binding on the localities until affirmed by the court under this subsection. Once approved by the circuit court, the agreement shall also bind future local governing bodies of the localities.
2006, c. 573; 2007, cc. 363, 410; 2009, cc. 413, 731; 2010, c. 239; 2012, c. 512; 2014, c. 527.