Agricultural security areas are intended to promote more permanent and viable farming operations over the long term by strengthening the farming community’s sense of security in land use and the right to farm. Agricultural security areas are created by local municipalities in cooperation with individual landowners who agree to collectively place at least 250 acres in an agricultural security area.
At least 250 acres of farmland are needed (collectively) to form an agricultural security area. ASAs are usually composed of multiple tracts of farmland owned by multiple owners. ASAs can be created jointly by more than one municipality.
To be eligible, farm properties must:
- Be at least 10 acres in size if noncontiguous to other properties that are in or proposed for inclusion in an ASA.
- Be viable agricultural land. Cropland, pasture and woodland can all be included in an ASA.
- Have at least 50% of the land in Soil Capability Classes I-IV (as mapped & defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service).
- Be located in a zoning district that permits agricultural uses.
Agricultural Security Area Benefits
There are three important landowner benefits for having farmland included in an agricultural security area.
- Landowners who have their farmland enrolled in an ASA of at least 500 acres are eligible to apply to preserve their farms by selling agricultural conservation easements to the Commonwealth and/or Lehigh County.
- Local governments are not permitted to enact laws or nuisance ordinances that will unreasonably restrict farm structures and farm practices within their ASAs.
- It is more difficult for local and state governments to take land in ASAs by eminent domain for schools, parks, highways and other public uses.
Unless a landowner has chosen to preserve their farm with an agricultural conservation easement, an ASA does not add any restrictions to the use of a property.
Adding Your Land to an ASA
- Complete and submit an ASA proposal form to your township office. The proposal must include your printed name, signature, address, tax parcel identification number and acreage of each parcel. ASA proposal forms are available at the Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Office, or click here.
- The proposal form must be submitted to your township by certified mail return receipt.
- If your proposal includes land in more than one township, the proposal form must be submitted to each township where your land is located.
- The township supervisors should acknowledge receipt of your proposal at their next meeting.
- The supervisors must make a decision within 180 days of the date you submit your proposal form. If the supervisors fail to act within 180 days, your land is automatically added to the ASA without modification.
- Within 10 days of the addition to an ASA, a description of the added land must be filed in the Lehigh County Recorder of Deeds’ Office and the PA Department of Agriculture should be notified.
|Meeting Schedule: Only as required.|
|Chairman: David O. Fink|
|Daniel Hartman||William Dietrich|
|Michael Bailey||Recording Secretary: Janice M. Meyers|