Transfer of Development Rights


Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs use market forces to fund the conservation of important resource lands. The program allows resource landowners within designated sending areas to sell the development value of their land and keep the right to use their land in ways that won’t impair its natural resource use. Landowners and developers who purchase development rights from sending area landowners can use them to develop land within designated receiving areas where intense land uses are more appropriate.

TDR Sending Sites

Certain farm and forest lands within unincorporated Snohomish County are designated TDR sending areas. In order to be designated a TDR sending area, farm or forest lands must meet the criteria outlined in SCC 30.35A.025. Development rights are removed from a qualifying sending site by a conservation easement that runs with the land and prohibits new residential development.

TDR Receiving Sites

TDR credits purchased from resource landowners allow additional residential development in designated receiving areas in unincorporated Snohomish County. Lands that meet the criteria outlined in SCC 30.35A.080 are designated receiving areas. The amount of additional development allowed varies based on the source of the TDR credit and the type of receiving area.

The Snohomish County Council adopted countywide TDR regulations that became effective on October 19, 2013. The countywide TDR regulations are located in Chapter 30.35A of Snohomish County Code.

Recent Changes

Temporary regulations, effective on August 28, 2015, now exempt new single family residential development and townhouse unit lot subdivisions within designated receiving areas from TDR requirements. These temporary regulations were adopted by County Council with Amended Ordinance No. 15-052 (PDF). Permanent TDR exemptions are scheduled to replace these interim requirements in early 2016.

PDS Staff Contact

For further questions or information, please email Linda Neunzig, County Agriculture Coordinator, or call 425-388-7170.