How do I get general planning information?
The Planning Commission provides a wide variety of data and publications. Some of the most popular documents include the Data Book, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Greenway, Park and Recreation Plan. Most documents are provided free of charge, though there may be a modest mailing fee for larger documents. As this website evolves, documents will become available for download.
How do I get maps and/or aerial photos?
Most maps and aerial photos are one-of-a-kind and, therefore, available for use only by visiting our office. Photocopies may be made at .25 cents each. Printed aerial photography is available for the following years:
1992, scale 1 inch = 1320 feet
1988, scales vary
1980, scale 1 inch = 800 feet
1971, scale 1 inch = 800 feet
1960, scales vary, limited coverage
Berks County digital aerial photography for 1999, 2004 and 2008 are available for free via PASDA. Click on the links below and you will be directed to the PASDA website or PAMAP ftp site:
1999 DOQQ Download
2004 Aerial Imagery Mosaic Download
2008 Aerial Imagery
The Planning Commission does not provide road maps for the County. We recommend you purchase one of the commercially available maps for sale at many local retailers.
What Census Data do you provide?
Printed reports from 1950 through 1990 are available for photocopy in our office. 2000 Census data have been released in digital form and may be obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Browse through our website to see what we have available from the 2010 Decennial Census. For more detailed and timely information, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s website www.census.gov or the Pennsylvania State Data Center’s website www.pasdc.hbg.psu.edu.
How do I get a copy of a zoning or subdivision ordinance?
Here in Pennsylvania, zoning and subdivision regulations are not administered by the county, but rather by individual municipalities. Though we have file copies of ordinances here in the office that you may look at, there is no guarantee that they are accurate or up-to-date. The individual municipality should be contacted for questions regarding their ordinance.
But I was told that Berks County administered the subdivision ordinance.
There are only two municipalities that do not have their own subdivision ordinances and, therefore, fall under the County’s regulations: Lyons Borough and Lenhartsville Borough. All others administer their own subdivision regulations.
I have a piece of property I wish to subdivide. What do I do?
1. Hire a competent surveyor or engineer to design your subdivision. The Planning Commission and staff cannot provide recommendations on particular individuals or firms.
2. The local municipality should be contacted in reference to their zoning and subdivision regulations. These two documents will guide the design of your subdivision.
3. The proposed plan is submitted to the municipality for their review.
4. The municipality reviews the plan and, at the same time, submits the plan, along with the appropriate fee, to the County Planning Commission for our review comments.
5. The plan can be approved by the municipality, approved conditionally, or rejected.
My subdivision plan was approved by the municipality and is ready for endorsement. What do I do now?
Once the plan is approved by the municipality, a minimum of three (3) signed and notarized copies are brought to our offices for endorsement. The following items are reviewed by the endorsing staff member and MUST be present in order for the endorsement to be completed:
à Municipal Review Section
1.) Seal -- Municipal seal (not Planning Commission )
2.) Review date -- 90 days for recording – time limit begins with the first calendar day after the plan approval and ends the 90th calendar day after plan approval, weekends and holidays inclusive. If the 90th day falls on a holiday, the 91st day is included. When plan exceeds 90-day limit, reaffirmation of the plan by the municipality must be shown on the plan being recorded.
3.) Signatures – Supervisors/Borough Council, and--where appropriate--local Planning Commission. All signatures must be original!
à Source of Title (must have Deed Book # and Page #’s referenced)
à Certificate of Ownership
1.) Should match Source of Title (names of owners, if two people are mentioned in the Source of Title, both signatures must appear; if one is deceased, the date is needed for recording purposes)
a) Notarized - raised seal and stamp (check expiration date on stamp)
b) Signatures - Owners & Notary
c) All signatures must be original
à Surveyor/Engineer stamp & signature (all signatures and stamps must be original)
Barring problems, this procedure takes roughly 10-15 minutes. There is no fee. We keep two copies of the plan for our files. After endorsement, the plans are taken to the County Recorder of Deeds (3rd Floor, County Services Center) to have them officially recorded. The Recorder’s Office keeps the third copy of the plan. There is a fee for recording set by the Recorder’s office.
Where do I obtain permits?
Permit authority also rests with the individual municipalities. Permits for building, electrical, plumbing, occupancy, zoning, health, etc. are all issued locally, not by the County.
I was told that I need Flood Insurance. How do I confirm this?
We maintain the latest copies of the FEMA’s FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) maps here in the office. Since these maps do not have property lines, addresses, or building footprints on them, we cannot make a determination over the telephone. We will be happy to photocopy the appropriate map section ($0.25 per page) for you so your engineer or mortgage company can make the determination for you, or you may stop by our offices and view them for yourself.
FEMA updated the flood hazard maps effective July 3, 2012. Please visit the following link for more information regarding the latest FEMA information: FEMA Flood Map Modernization Program
Does the Planning Commission provide digital copies of tax parcel maps?
We do not; however, mapped information is available in a variety of formats from the County Mapping Department (610-478-3360). Note that legal disclaimers and computer software compatibility requirements will apply.
Is GIS (Geographic Information System) data available to the public?
The Berks County Planning Commission publishes a Berks County Data CD that contains a variety of county-wide GIS layers. This information is distributed on a CD in shapefile format. Customized CDs and GIS manipulation are not available. Please click on the following link for more information on how to obtain Berks County GIS Data: Berks County Planning Commission Request GIS Data Page