" BES Project Abstracts 2005
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Trends in Development, Subdivision Density, and the Demand for TDRs: Application to Montgomery County, Maryland”
Francis Nicholas Kelly III
Abstract: The growth of low density development in urban areas and the associated loss of farmland and open space is an issue of increasing concern to many jurisdictions in the United States over the past several decades. Between 1970 and 1990, the density of the country’s urban population fell by 23%, as city residents have moved towards outlying rural areas. This form of “urban sprawl” is argued to be caused by many different factors, including low transportation costs, preferences for more space, and even zoning regulations. The state of Maryland has not been immune to these effects, particularly in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. Between 1970 and 1990, the District was the fourth ranked city in the nation in terms of sprawl, as the metro area grew outward by 450.1 square miles. Consequently, this dissertation plans to examine issues related to urban development and sprawl by exploring one region of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Montgomery County, MD, as a case study. Using a detailed, unique dataset of residential subdivisions built in Montgomery County from January 1973-October 2004, this paper will first analyze some of the basic issues related to the density of development in Montgomery County. Next, we will use econometric analysis to establish what factors have affected land development over time. Finally, this paper will examine the developer’s decision to use Transferable Development Rights (TDRs), a policy tool that has been used in the county to both preserve land and influence density, and will be examined in detail.