Agricultural Land Preservation Program

Purpose:

To protect and promote the continued agricultural use of Pike County's valuable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements from willing landowners on actively farmed lands within Agricultural Security Areas (ASA's).

In January 2014, the Pike County Commissioners certified $2,667 for the purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements in Pike County. This money was matched by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in February, resulting in an allocation of $149,865 to aid Pike County in preserving farmland through Agricultural Conservation Easements.

PROGRAM HISTORY

An extremely important aspect of Pike County's Scenic Rural Character Preservation Program is the establishment of the County's first Agricultural Land Preservation Program. At the recommendation of the Pike County Planning Commission, the Pike County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at their March 22, 2006 public meeting which established a County-wide Agricultural Land Preservation Program and created the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board to administer that program.

The adoption of this Resolution not only signifies the county's commitment to Pennsylvania's farmland preservation program but also acknowledges the importance to the County of preserving and maintaining Pike County's agricultural lands as a valued economic, natural, ecological, cultural, and historic resource.

While Pike County's farming community may not play a significant part in the State's agricultural economy, Pike County's farmland does play a significant role in the scenic rural character of our local communities. The small family farms, which include pastureland, harvested hayland, orchards and similar agriculture areas, provide scenic open space areas which have a proven value to both residents and tourist visitors to the County.

In upcoming years as the County continues to grow, the Pike County agricultural community (our small farms) will be faced with monumental impediments to their continued operation. Rising costs of farm operation, fluctuating farm product market prices and demand, steadily increasing property/school taxes and the continued pressure from development provide difficult hurdles for small farmers in the County who want to continue their operations and keep the family farms in the family. Pike County prime agricultural soils are areas increasingly sought after for residential development. The reduction in our small farm community corresponds directly to these impediments and the increase in the amount of residential development in the County. The farming areas that do exist in the County will become even more fragmented.

This program will help to strengthen and protect our quality farmland areas in the County for the continued production of food and other agricultural products. It will also assist our small family farm landowners with the preservation and continued operation of these farms by providing additional important and viable options for them.

The purpose of the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Program is to protect and promote the continued agricultural use of valuable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements on actively farmed lands within Ag Security Areas (ASA's). The purchase of these easements from willing and interested landowners will provide these landowners with a more viable option for retaining the small farm operations and our local communities rural character.

During 2006, the Pike County Office of Community Planning worked with the Commissioners to draft Pike County's Agricultural Land Preservation Program Manual. The Planning staff worked with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service State Soil Scientist and the local District Conservationist to develop Soil Rating for the Land Evaluation portion of the Manual. Planning staff also worked closely with the PA Department of Agriculture to further detail the necessary sections of the Pike County Manual required under the State's Ag Preservation Program. The Commissioners appointed the Ag Preservation Board members in early 2007 and the Manual review became their first major task under the new program. Now that the Manual has been approved by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Land Preservation Board, Pike County can accept applications for easement purchases under the program.

Interested landowners must be included in an approved Agricultural Security Area (ASA) in the County in order to apply for easement purchases. Only "willing" participation by landowners in an ASA and for easement purchases can be considered. Further details on this can be obtained by contacting Preservation Planner Jessica Grohmann at the Planning office.

 

Information

January 14, 2010: PIKE COUNTY ADOPTS NEW PROGRAM MANUAL

At the request of the Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board and with the approval from the PA State Agricultural Board, the County Commissioners have updated the Program Manual. Changes to the manual include Subdivision Guidelines, Deed of Merger, Water Rights, and an updated Rural Enterprise section. The 3rd Edition of the Program Manual was approved by the Commissioners on January 13, 2010. These revisions can be found by clicking the link above. Anyone wishing to see previous editions is asked to contact the Planning Office.

The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Program Easement Purchase Program Manual was originally approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on February 15, 2007. This manual outlines the administration of the Agricultural Land Preservation Program and also provides the guidelines for interested residents who would like to have an agricultural conservation easement placed on their property. The Agricultural Land Preservation Board presented the program manual to the Pike County Board of Commissioners for their approval. The program manual was approved by the Commissioners on April 25, 2007.

The deadline to submit an applications for the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement is February 15th of each year. Any landowner enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area of 500 acres or more is eligible to apply.

In order to be considered for this program, landowners must be enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area.

To view the current Agricultural Land Preservation Program Manual please go the to the Downloadable Documents section to the right and choose ALP Manual.

The first step in the Agricultural Land Preservation process is to enroll the property in an Agricultural Security Area (ASA). Agricultural Security Areas are a tool for strengthening and protecting our quality farmland from the urbanization of rural areas. Landowners interested in protecting their agricultural lands must first be enrolled in an ASA. Agricultural Security Areas offer some benefits to the landowner:

  • Protection from local ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farming operations
  • Protection from nuisance complaints (such as noise and odor)
  • An ASA designation discourages eminent domain and provides the landowner with additional state and local reviews of any proposed condemnation
  • Landowners with loans through the Small Business First Program and the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund may receive a reduction in their interest rates
  • ASA designation does not restrict the use of the property by the farmer

 

Proposals are submitted to the municipality from landowners looking to enroll their property in an Agricultural Security Area. Lands enrolled in ASAs greater than 500 acres are eligible to apply for the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement.

In an effort to assist landowners in creating or joining an Agricultural Security Area, the Pike County Office of Community Planning is available to assist landowners in this process. If you are interested in putting your land in an Agricultural Security Area, please complete the form below and the Preservation Planner will contact you and work with you to start the process.

 

Agricultural Security Areas (ASA's)
Municipality Acres Date Created
Dingman Township 851 February 2008
Greene Township 542 January 2010
Lackawaxen Township 4,421 December 2006
Westfall Township 925 August 2009

 

The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board works with landowners who are interested in selling the development rights to their property. The county is eligible to obtain matching funds from the state to preserve agricultural properties.

Through the application process outlined in the program manual, landowners can reap the financial benefits of preserving their agricultural practices for future generations. By the end of 2013, Pike County had purchased two agricultural conservation easements, shown below.

Name Municipality Acreage Year
Quinn Dingman 98 2010
Wehrmann Greene 114 2013

 

All meetings are scheduled to start at 4:00 PM. Please note that the January 18th meeting will be a reorganization meeting. To view the agenda, click on the meeting dates above. Meeting minutes can be obtained by contacting the Pike County Office of Community Planning.

All Board meetings are held at the Pike County Conservation District located on Route 402 (Blooming Grove)

2014 Meeting Dates and Agendas
January 21st
Cancelled
February 18th
March 218th
April 15th
May 20th
June 17th
July 15th
August 19th
September 16th
October 21st
November 18th
December 16th

 

In the event of severe weather, a decision to cancel will be made by 10:00am on the meeting date. Our office will contact Board members on the morning of the meeting should the weather be questionable and cancellation is in the best interest of safety for all. Should we be unable to contact you, please contact our office at 296-3500 before venturing out.

 

The Pike County Agricultural Land Preservation Board is reaching out to agricultural landowners to introduce the Agricultural Land Preservation Program and assist applicants in applying for funding under this program.

 

Click here for the 2010 Annual Report.

 

Find out how the new Act 106 might affect you, including the Farmers Market Sales Tax at the Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture web site:

http://www.eatsafepa.com/Act106.aspx and
http://www.eatsafepa.com/FarmersMarketVendors.aspx

Or you can click view their PDF documents relating to this topic here:
Farmers Market Guidelines
Farmers Market Act 106

 

Have you seen our Agculture Land Preservation placemat at a local restaurant? If not, you can view it here.

 

Additional questions and comments can be directed to the Preservation Planner at 570-296-3500 or by emailing the Preservation Planner.

 

Office Info

Hours M-F 8:00 - 4:30
Phone 570-296-3500
Fax 570-296-3501
Internal Extension 1380
Address 837 Route 6, Unit 3
Shohola, PA 18458
Contact Email planning@pikepa.org
Directions 5 Miles West of I-84 & Route 6 Interchange (Exit 46)

Agricultural Land Preservation Board Members

Glenn Strys - Chairman

Shirley Coutts

Matthew Martin

Mike Mancino

Vacant