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Farm Photo in Lehigh

        

Staff Contact Information

Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Office

4234 Dorney Park Rd Suite 2                          Allentown, PA 18104

Diane Matthews-Gehringer
Director of Farmland Preservation
Contact
610-336-5680
dianematthews-gehringer@lehighcounty.org

Donna Wright
Farmland Preservation Specialist
Contact 610-336-5680
donnawright@lehighcounty.org

Beverly Weaver
Farmland Preservation Specialist
Contact 610-336-5680 beverlyweaver@lehighcounty.org

Jeff Zehr
Farmland Preservation Specialist
Contact 610-336-5680   jeffzehr@lehighcounty.org

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Cathleen Bannon
Garden Plot Program Administrator
Contact 610-336-5680 Ext 2          cathleenbannon@lehighcounty.org

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Lindsey Parks

The Seed Farm Executive Director
Contact 610-336-5690                    lparks@caclv.org      

Lindsey_Parks@theseedfarm.org


 

        

About Land Preservation

Welcome to Lehigh County Farmland Preservation's Web Page!

2020 will see 25,000+ acres preserved in

Lehigh County! Watch for updates.

The Bureau of Agricultural Land Preservation works with the nine member Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Lehigh County to preserve farmland within Lehigh County. The name of the board was changed at the end of 2009 to honor Sterling Raber, former county commissioner and chairman of the farmland preservation board, for his long-time dedication and commitment to protecting agriculture and rural life in Lehigh County.
Total Acreage

The preservation of farmland is accomplished through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements (also known as the purchase of development rights) on eligible Lehigh County farm properties. As of January 2020, the County Board has protected 347 Lehigh County farms covering a total of 24,880.45 acres with perpetual agricultural conservation easements.

Funding Status (2020)

Lehigh County has allocated $1,000,000 per year for the purchase of development rights from 2020 thru 2022. The state has allocated $2.8Mil for Lehigh County in 2020. Lehigh County's total farmland preservation budget for 2020 is $3.3mil+.


The Lehigh County Land Preservation Board reviews the county program’s per acre cap each year. The current cap is $6,000 an acre. This is the maximum amount per acre that the Board will pay. The Board will continue to limit the increase in easement value from second opinion appraisals to no more than 50% above the original offer. Second opinion appraisals are not accepted for Out of Order Municipal Partnership easements or Emergency Purchase Easements. Any Board purchase of an easement below the appraisal price might result in income tax breaks. For more information, please see your tax accountant.

Municipal Partnership

In an effort to preserve more farmland and boost funding for the Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Program, the County has developed the Municipal Partnership Program. Please see the Municipal Partnership Program section for more information.

Waiting List

Preservation applicants are ranked each year following the July 1st application deadline. The top-ranking farms are then selected for preservation, based off of available funding. Farms that are not selected are put on a waiting list to be considered in the following year(s) when more funding is available. Currently, there are 80 farms on the waiting list.



ACT 319/515 is NOT permanent preservation-it's a preferential tax program :

For questions involving Act 319/515, please reference the Lehigh County Office of Assessment webpage. To contact them by phone, please call 610-782-3038.

Exciting New Tax Information for Beginner Farmers:

BEGINNER FARMER REALTY TRANSFER TAX EXEMPTION (ACT 13 OF 2019)

Please note there is now a webpage dedicated to providing information regarding the Beginner Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemption (Act 13 of 2019). The webpage includes basic information about the program, frequently asked questions, and associated forms. The webpage can be reached at the following link: https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/farmland/Act_13/Pages/default.aspx

Landowner Responsibilities If You Own

Preserved Farmland

ATTENTION TO ALL OWNERS, SELLERS


AND PURCHASERS OF PRESERVED FARMS

ALL new deeds must contain a copy of the Original Deed of Easement , which parcel has the additional house right, AND how much building coverage your farm is allowed. SEE "ALP FORMS AND DOCUMENTS" FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS. If your Deeds are not recorded with the correct language as required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you will be contacted by our office and required to have your Deed corrected at your cost. This requirement is part of your Deed of Easement!

 For additional information contact the Farmland Preservation office at 610-336-5680

  1. All agricultural production on your land will be conducted in accordance with a Conservation Plan prepared by the Lehigh County Conservation District to protect the soil and water resources on your property. The Plan will be updated whenever there is a change in the farm operation OR ownership.
  2. You are permitted to construct new farm buildings and other structures for agricultural production, but it is necessary to abide by municipal building permit and zoning restrictions.The construction of the additional buildings requires an application, review and prior written approval by the Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Lehigh County. No more than 10% of the conservation easement area can be covered with permanent buildings/structures.
  3. The Deed of Agricultural Conservation Easement permits the construction of only one additional residential structure. This new residence can be built to house the owner(s) of the property, farm employees, or an immediate family member. The construction of the additional residence requires an application, review and prior written approval by the Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Lehigh County.
  4. Subdivision is permitted in certain limited circumstances as outlined in the Lehigh County Subdivision Guidelines that were provided to you in the landowner handbook. An application is required and review and prior
  5. If you plan to sell or transfer your property, the entire Deed of Agricultural Conservation Easement must be included verbatim in the new deed(s). This is most easily accomplished by making reference to the Deed of Easement and attaching a copy of the recorded Deed of Easement to the new property deed. Please instruct the attorney or title company preparing the new deed used for conveying or transferring the property to include the necessary language. You can also contact the Farmland Preservation Program Office for detailed instructions on how transfer deeds should be prepared.
  6. When you sell or transfer your property, you must also notify the Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, in writing, before you sell the property and provide the name, address and telephone number of the prospective new owners.