Monday, April 20, 2009

PURCHASE OF DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS -- Another example of citizen activisim to create a more sustainable environment is the Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR Program) created by Loudoun County, Virginia. Loudoun County is one of the most beautiful areas in the country with horse farms, vineyards, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and bordered by the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Unfortunately, it is a suburb of Washington, D.C. and thus is steadily being consumed by urban sprawl. To help protect the open space of the western part of Loudoun County, the Piedmont Environmental County and other citizen organizations and individuals banned together to convince the county to enact its Purchase of Development Rights Program. This was a program to purchase the development rights on agriculture and other undeveloped pieces of land so as to preserve the open space in western Loudoun. This was cheaper than actually purchasing the land, and allowed landowners to become the stewards to protect the land. The program was funded with allocations from the county's tourist occupancy tax imposed on hotel rooms (with the hotels in Loudoun County being primarily located near Washington's Dulles airport). At the same time, the program helped to promote tourism as the beautiful horse farms, vineyards and civil war sites in Loudoun county make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Washington, D.C. region. One of the individuals that helped to push for the creation of the PDR program and who then served on the PDR Board was Richard Hopper, who previously in his role as Hawaii's State Environmental Planning Coordinator had developed a Quality Growth Policy for Hawaii and who developed the initial plan for the "New Urbanism" community of King Farm across the Potomac River from Loudoun County, Virginia in neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland.

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