During the initial phase of the Highlands TDR Program, as voluntary receiving zones are established that support private purchase of HDCs, the HDC Bank is playing a crucial role as the primary purchaser of HDCs. The Bank’s Initial Purchase Program allows willing landowners in the Highlands Preservation Area to apply for an allocation of HDCs and an HDC certificate and, if eligible, to deed restrict their land from future development in exchange for funding from the HDC Bank.
The HDC Bank considers purchasing HDCs from property owners that satisfy the requirements of one of the following categories, provided that the appropriate information or documentation is given to the Highlands Council for evaluation with the HDC Allocation Application:
- The property owner is experiencing extenuating financial circumstances, including but not limited to imminent bankruptcy, extraordinary medical expenses, or loss of job;
- A proposed project on the property just missed qualifying for Exemption #3 under the Highlands Act;
- A proposed project on the property qualified for Exemption #3, but that exemption has since expired;
- The property is located within the Special Environmental Zone of the Highlands Preservation Area as designated by the Highlands Council in the Regional Master Plan; or
- The property is located within a High Value Agricultural Priority Area as designated by the Highlands Council in the Regional Master Plan.
For the fourth and fifth categories above, a property owner must have applied for participation in a preservation program administered by the State or a local government unit (together “Public Agency”) no earlier than August 10, 2004, and which application was rejected by the appropriate Public Agency or was deemed ineligible for participation based upon the requisite program’s eligibility criteria. Information or documentation to be provided to the Highlands Council in support of qualifying under any of the above acquisition priority categories is listed in the HDC Allocation Application.
The TDR Initial Purchase Program was made possible by the appropriation of $10 million to the HDC Bank in September 2008 through Executive Order 114. During the first four rounds of acquisition consideration, the HDC Bank has authorized $7,966,500 in funding to acquire HDCs from property owners that qualified based upon the Bank’s priority acquisition categories. Should the offers to these property owners all result in the closing of a Highlands TDR deed of easement, the TDR program will have addressed over 500 acres in the first four rounds. The HDC Bank has approximately $1,000,000 in remaining funds to be applied to qualified property owners during the fifth round of acquisition consideration.