As a rural planner I am frequently frustrated by developer requests for master plan amendments and zone changes to allow for high density development in undeveloped areas of the county. These requests are typically approved without consideration to the long-term costs of development activities or with much consideration to the additional value that the higher density provides to the developer.
There seems to be a mindset that everyone has a 'right to develop' without consideration of the externalities of development that are expected to be paid for later by the public. This strikes me as similar to the practice of not considering the cost of pollution that has led to the cap and trade of pollution credits being proposed by some in government.
In my rudimentary understanding of "cap and trade" the government will establish a maximum allowable limit on pollution (or base). Members of the pollution community receive an allocation of that base. Those with a surplus will be able to sell that surplus, and those needing additional allocation will be required to purchase surplus allocations.
Which brings me to "cap and trade" of development rights. Rather than give away density to anyone with the ability to convince the governing board, why not establish a base allocation and a limit on the number of "units" (residential parcels) that can be created over a specified period of time (master plan horizon for instance) and require developers to purchase additional allocation. The difference between the base and the limit establishes a credit bank that is held by the municipality. As credits are purchased, the bank invests the funds in land and resource protection programs that mitigate some of the effects of development.
Has anyone tried this or something similar?