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   Agricultural Security
Areas (ASA)


Agricultural Security Area (ASA) Defined

    Act 43 authorizes townships to create Agricultural Security Areas (ASAs) on a voluntary basis.  Landowners are encouraged to enroll farmland in an ASA that offers three benefits:  1) Protection from condemnation or eminent domain; 2) Protection from local nuisance ordinances; and 3) Eligibility for the ACE Program. 

     Landowners with 10 acres or more may voluntarily petition their township to form an ASA.  A minimum of 250 acres is needed to establish an ASA and a minimum of 500 acres is needed for that land enrolled in the ASA to be eligible for the ACE Program.  Most townships in Berks County with an ASA have more than 500 acres enrolled.  An ASA may be increased at any time.  Landowners simply need to submit an enrollment form to the township office by certified mail, as it is important that the landowners can verify the date the application was submitted.  In addition to the township’s responsibility to respond to enrollment forms, every seven years townships may review lands enrolled in ASA with the option of adding additional land, at the request of the landowners, or withdrawing land previously enrolled.  ASA enrollment forms and supporting documentation may be obtained at the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Office.

 

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Benefits to Landowners Joining an Agricultural Security Area  

  1. The local governments refrain from enacting ordinances and regulations which restrict farming operations and farm structures within an Agricultural Security Area.

  2. When defining a public nuisance, the local government will provide exceptions for normal agricultural activities occurring within an Agricultural Security Area, unless the law protects public health and safety.

  3. State agencies or programs, which could negatively affect farmers, shall act in a manner that will encourage the continuation of viable agriculture in the areas.

  4. Limitations are placed on the use of land condemnation procedures—eminent domain—by State and local agencies unless approval is obtained from the Agricultural Land Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB).

  5. The landowner has the opportunity to apply to the Agricultural Conservation Easement (ACE) Program once enrolled into an Agricultural Security Area*.  The ACE Program can provide financial benefits to those landowners that sell an agricultural conservation easement to Berks County.  (* The ACE Program has other criteria that must be met in addition to the ASA enrollment prior to applying.)

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Who Should Enroll Into an ASA

Landowners whose land meets the following requirements:

  1. The property must be at least 10 acres in size.  It does not have to be adjoining other property enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area.

  2. The property must be viable agricultural land. Cropland, pasture, and woodland can all be included in an Agricultural Security Area.

  3. At least 50% of the land should be in soil capability classes I-IV, as defined by the county soil survey.  Options exist if this requirement is not met.

  4. The property must be zoned to permit agricultural uses.

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How to Enroll Your Land in an ASA

  1. Complete an agricultural security area application form and attach a copy of your tax map. Application forms and tax maps may be obtained by contacting our office, the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, at (610) 378-1844,  by visiting our website at www.co.berks.pa.us/alp,  or at the township where you reside.

  2. Mail the application to your township office by certified mail with return receipt, provided your township has an Agricultural Security Area.* (* If your land is located in a township without an ASA, please contact our office for additional information and options.)

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Township Review and Approval

  1. All townships within Berks County that have an ASA have more than 250 acres enrolled.

  2. New parcels of farmland may be added to an established ASA at any time.  Note: Many townships have specific enrollment periods for ease in processing.

  3. Townships review enrollment in Agricultural Security Areas every seven years; at which time, parcels may be added or withdrawn from the ASA.

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 Berks County Townships with Agricultural Security Areas

Albany Jefferson Rockland
Amity Longswamp Ruscombmanor
Bern  Lower Heidelberg South Heidelberg                
Bethel  Maidencreek Spring
Brecknock Marion Tilden
Caernarvon Maxatawny Tulpehocken
Centre  North Heidelberg Union
Colebrookdale Oley Upper Bern
District Penn Upper Tulpehocken
Douglass Perry Washington
Greenwich Pike Windsor
Heidelberg Richmond
Hereford Robeson
  

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