MacRo LTD Blog

Land Preservation Tool Kit Expands

Montgomery County Maryland is on the forefront of land preservation efforts with a new and innovative tool – the Building Lot Termination (“BLT”) Program.

Land Preservation Tool Kit ExpandsThe BLT program piggy backs on the 30 year old Transferable Development Right (“TDR”) program. For a basic understanding of the TDR program you may want to refer back to our previous blog postings Saving Farmland with Transferable Development Rights and 13 Components of a Successful Transferable Development Right Program.

While the County’s TDR program has been very successful in reducing development in the Rural Reserve, some feel that even less (zero?) homes should be allowed. In the past, some have pushed to ban the use of sand mound septic systems and or “child lots”. Those efforts weren’t successful probably because they took value from land owners without any compensation.

The adopted BLT program is different:  it’s a voluntary program which is market driven and offers compensation. Under the existing TDR program many land owners have sold their “excess” development rights (TDR’s) but retained the subdivision potential of their land. For example a 200 acre farm in the Rural Reserve has 40 development rights (1 per 5 acres) but can only be subdivided into 8 lots (1 lot per 25 acres). Typically a land owner would sell 32 TDR’s and retain 8 development rights for potential subdivision of the land owned. When the market was at its peak in 2005 TDR’s were selling for as high as $40,000, but lots were worth around $400,000. Not many people would sell a TDR for $40k if it meant sacrificing the potential for a $400k lot sale.

As a way to encourage owners to eliminate their right to subdivide their land the county came up with the BLT program. A BLT is kind of like a TDR on steroids. While the TDR’s are purchased by residential developers which allows them to increase residential densities in designated areas, the buyer’s for BLT’s are commercial developers who can gain increases in the number of square feet built in designated commercial districts.

The county has a $5 million fund for the purchase BLT’s and will pay around $250,000 for each BLT this year. This isn’t a bad option for a landowner since lot values aren’t worth much more than that. The land owner can sell the BLT and still own the land and not have to worry about marketing the lot, having a new neighbor etc.

That’s all for this week, all this talk of BLT’s has made me hungry – I’m going to get lunch. If you have any questions about subdivision or land preservation, feel free to contact Rocky or me anytime.

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This article was written by MacRo, Ltd. Vice President, Dave Wilkinson. Dave is a licensed Realtor and brokers most of MacRo’s real estate listings, using his knowledge of zoning and subdivision regulations, real estate market conditions, and land development options to help MacRo’s clients achieve their goals. Contact Dave at 301-748-5670 or

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