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Subdivision Procedures

 

Subdivision of an agricultural conservation easement may be possible under the conditions below.  Please see the Subdivision Guidelines and contact the Office at 610-378-1844 to discuss the criteria and procedures for subdivision. 

 

General

The landowners of a property subject to an agricultural conservation easement through the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, whether the easement be held solely by the State, solely by the County, or held jointly by the State and County, may subdivide the property into a maximum of two parcels provided that the following conditions apply.


1. The subdivision is consistent with the statement of purpose of the Berks County Agricultural Land Preservation Board as defined in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Guidelines, as amended.


2. No restriction, prohibitions or condition shall prevent the landowners from subdividing eased lands for the purpose of constructing one additional residential structure as authorized by 3 P.S. Section 914.1 (c)(6)(iv), provided that such a subdivision complies with 7 PA Code Chapter 138e.224.


3. The prohibitions, restrictions, and conditions of subdivision of eased land shall be recited verbatim in the deed for all subdivided and remaining parcels.


4. The subdivided parcels shall continue to be subject to the terms of the original agricultural conservation easement.


5. The subdivision guidelines, 7 PA Code Section 138e.225 (relating to subdivision of eased land), are intended to preserve as much farmland as possible in integral parcels and to promote viable agricultural enterprises. Special exceptions to these subdivision guidelines will be considered by the County Board on a case by case basis depending on the size of the subdivided parcels, township zoning, neighborhood characteristics, and other pertinent factors.


6. All costs associated with subdivision shall be the responsibility of the landowners.


7. Nothing shall relieve the landowners of any municipal, county or state regulations, procedures or requirements necessary for the subdivision of land.

Subdivision Restrictions

Except as provided in Sub-Section D (1)(b) of this Section XI, no subdivision of eased land shall be permitted unless all of the following conditions are met:

1. Approval of a subdivision shall be requested, in writing, of and granted by the County Board and by the State Board.


2. Subdivision shall not harm the economic viability, as defined in Sub-Section B of this Section XI, of any parcel created by or remaining after subdivision. The landowners shall have the burden of proof.


3. The subdivision of property does not convert land which has been devoted primarily to agricultural use to another primary use, other than a tract of two acres or less upon which construction and use of the landowners’ principal residence or housing for seasonal or full-time employees is permitted pursuant to 3 PS. Section 914.1 (c)(6)(iv).


4. Subdivision of a property with an agricultural conservation easement may be prohibited if the landowners can accomplish the construction and use of a principal residence or housing for seasonal or full-time farm employees in accordance with 3 P.S. Section 914.1(c)(6)(iv), under the applicable subdivision and land development ordinance, by a land development other than subdivision.

5. Each parcel created or remaining as a result of subdivision shall have all of the following:


a. At least fifty percent (50%) of its soils in USDA Soil Capability Class I-IV.

b. At least fifty percent (50%) of its area utilized for crop or pasture land.

c. Site characteristics (including but not limited to slopes, topography, shape, location of roads, streams, wetlands, ponds, access) that allow for practicality and reasonable efficiency of agricultural activity.

6. No parcel of less than 52 acres may be created by subdivision. The sole exception to this 52-acre-minimum subdivision standard shall allow a tract of as few as 10 acres to be created through subdivision if all of the following occur:

a. The subdivision results in the residue parcel and the parcel for annexation; and

b. Each of these parcels, by itself, meets the minimum criteria in (D)(2)(e); and

c. The parcel for annexation is annexed, by deed of merger, to an adjacent receiving parcel, with this deed of merger effectively extinguishing the legal right to convey the parcel for annexation as a separate building lot; and

d. The residue parcel retains any existing right to the additional residential structure allowed under the Agricultural Area Security Law, with the deed of merger for the parcel for annexation clearly reserving this right for the residue parcel; and

e. The parcel for annexation remains subject to the restrictions of its original deed of agricultural conservation easement. If said restrictions encumbering the parcel for annexation are stricter than the restrictions of the original deed of easement encumbering the receiving parcel, the landowners of the receiving parcel shall execute documentation satisfactory to the County Board imposing the restrictions encumbering the parcel for annexation on the receiving parcel; and

f. No further annexations under this section may occur with respect to the main parcel.