Rural Enterprises

Listing of Rural Enterprises

The agricultural conservation easement shall not prevent “customary part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprises” and activities. Excavation, paving, gravelling, construction of permanent non-agricultural structures or other activities cannot diminish the productive capacity of the soils in connection with such activities. For purposes of definition, these activities are limited to the following:

1. Direct sale to the public of agricultural products produced principally on the farm if more than 50% of such processed or merchandised products are produced by the farm operator.

2. The production and sale, by persons in residence, of home occupation goods, arts and crafts, so long as these uses remain incidental to the agricultural and open space character of the farm and are limited to occupying residential and principally agricultural structures of the property; limited in site coverage to one-half of one percent of the area of the property.

3. The provision of services or production and sale, by persons in residence, of incidental agricultural goods, services, supplies, and repairs and/or the conduct of traditional trades so long as these uses remain incidental to the agricultural and open space character of the farm and are limited to occupying residential and principally agricultural structures; limited in site coverage to one-half of one percent of the area of the property.

4. The accommodation of tourists and visitors within principally family residential and/or agricultural structures otherwise permitted under the law so long as the accommodation of tourists and visitors is undertaken as a part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprise and is incidental to the agricultural and open space character of the property.

5. Regulated hunting operations and the production and stocking of game birds so long as these uses remain incidental to the agricultural and open space character of the property.

Please Note: If more than one rural enterprise permitted in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, exists on the farm, the total site coverage of all such rural enterprises shall be limited to one-half of one percent of the area of the farm.

Permanent non-agricultural structures associated with customary part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprises must be reviewed and approved by the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board except for the following:

1. Any and all structures contributing to the production, primary processing, direct marketing and storage of agricultural products provided that at least 50% of such products are produced on the farm.

2. Structures and equipment associated with the production of energy from renewable resources (for example: wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, or animal waste) for use principally on the farm so long as it is located within the curtilage of the existing farm buildings and the total site coverage is limited to two percent of the area of the farm.

3. Structures and facilities associated with irrigation, minor farm pond improvements, and soil and water conservation practices including but not limited to Wetland Development or Restoration, Wildlife Wetland Habitat Management, Wildlife Upland Habitat Management and Riparian Forest Buffer Resource Management Systems used for erosion and sediment control and water quality improvement.

4. The installation of communications antennae on existing structures along with associated equipment and structures shall be permitted, provided that the installation or construction of any permanent non-agricultural equipment or structures associated with the communications antennae shall be located within the existing curtilage at the base of the existing structure supporting the communications antennae and such associated equipment or structures shall remain incidental to the agricultural and open space character of the property.

The County Board reserves the right to review and approve all customary part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprises and reserves the right to consider other similar customary part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprises that support the local agricultural economy and economic viability of preserved farms.

Procedures for Approval of a Rural Enterprises

Landowners submit a written request for a customary part-time or off-season minor or rural enterprise to the County Office for preliminary review. The written request shall describe the rural enterprise and:

1. Specify which section of the rural enterprises permits the activity;

2. Identify the landowners and operator of the rural enterprise;

3. Identify the location of the rural enterprise;

4. Discuss whether it involves the direct sale to the public of agricultural products produced principally on the farm;

5. Specify how much total eased land will be involved in acres and by percentage;

6. Describe any excavation, paving, gravelling, or construction of non-agricultural structures;

7. Discuss updates to the conservation plan, if any;

8. Discuss how the farm operation will be impacted by the rural enterprise; and,

9. Specify that land will not be taken out of production for the rural enterprise.

Landowners may submit sketches or other documentation that may be useful for the County Board to render a decision.

The County Office will review the request and submit it to the County Board. Landowners will be notified as to when the County Board will consider the request and are encouraged to attend the meeting to present the request and answer questions.