Minimum Criteria
of the Berks County Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
 

The land contained within an application shall meet all of the following minimum criteria as set forth by the County Board, which includes all of the minimum criteria in 7 PA Code Chapter 138e.16.

  1. Be located in an agricultural security area consisting of 500 acres or more, or meets the special provisions for parcels not entirely within an agricultural security area.

  2. Be contiguous acreage of at least 35 acres in size (3 P.S. § 914.1(d)(1)(v)(II)) unless the tract is at least 10 acres in size and:

    1. Is either utilized for a crop unique to the area; or

    2. Is contiguous to a property that has a perpetual agricultural conservation easement in place under Act 43 or held by a “qualified conservation organization,” as that term is defined at Section 170(h)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.A. § 170(h)(3)).

  3. Contain 50% of soils, which are available for agricultural production and are in capability classes I-IV, as defined by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

  4. Contain the greater of 50% or 10 acres of harvested cropland, pasture, or grazing lands.

  5. No land in an area identified as Designated Growth or Future Growth by the adopted Berks County Comprehenseive Plan may be preserved as part of the Berks County Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Should any portion of the application be located in Designated Growth or Future Growth by the adopted Berks County Comprehensive Plan and after the County Board has reviewed the application for the other minimum criteria and the application meets those requirements, the Berks County Planning Commission (BCPC) will be asked to perform a confidential review of the application.  If the BCPC confirms that any part of the application is in Designated Growth or Future Growth, the County Board will notify the landowner(s) of the application (both verbally and by registered mail) that the application will need to be modified in order to comply with the Board of Berks County Commissioners’ directive dated September 13, 2010 (available upon request).  The landowner(s) will have fifteen (15) business days to amend the application to exclude at least that land located in an area of Designated Growth and/or Future Growth to have the application considered for the ACE Program.  If the application is not amended within the 15 days, the County Board may withdraw the application in its entirety.
 
If the landowner(s) amends the application to exclude only the portion of land located in Designated Growth and/or Future Growth, the landowner(s) will be awarded points in the LESA ranking for offering the entire parcel.  If the landowner(s) excludes more land than what is located in Designated Growth and/or Future Growth, the application will not receive points in the LESA ranking for offering the entire parcel unless otherwise approved by the County Board.
 
If you have questions regarding whether your land has been identified as Designated Growth or Future Growth, you may contact the Berks County Planning Commission at (610) 478-6300 or planning@countyofberks.com.

If more than 20% of an offered parcel is located in a Future Growth/Designated Growth Area as defined by the current Berks County Comprehensive Plan, with certified written notice to the landowners, that parcel will be subject to further confidential review by the Berks County Planning Commission and the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

Failure to meet the minimum criteria set by the County Board will result in a rejection of the application. Landowners of applications that are rejected will be given written notice of the rejection along with an explanation of the reasons why the application was rejected.