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                                                      PRINTER'S NO. 3757



No. 2524 Session of 2008

           J. WHITE AND YOUNGBLOOD, MAY 13, 2008

           MAY 13, 2008

                                     AN ACT

     1  Amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), entitled "An
     2     act authorizing the creation of agricultural areas," further
     3     providing for the purchase of agricultural conservation
     4     easements.

     5     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     6  hereby enacts as follows:
     7     Section 1.  Section 14.1(c) and (i) of the act of June 30,
     8  1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security
     9  Law, amended December 21, 1998 (P.L.1056, No.138) and November
    10  1, 2005 (P.L.323, No.61), are amended and the section is amended
    11  by adding a subsection to read:
    12  Section 14.1.  Purchase of agricultural conservation easements.
    13     * * *
    14     (c)  Restrictions and limitations.--An agricultural
    15  conservation easement shall be subject to the following terms,
    16  conditions, restrictions and limitations:

     1         (1)  The term of an agricultural conservation easement
     2     shall be perpetual.
     3         (2)  Unless otherwise authorized in accordance with
     4     subsection (i), an agricultural conservation easement shall
     5     not be sold, conveyed, extinguished, leased, encumbered or
     6     restricted in whole or in part for a period of 25 years
     7     beginning on the date of purchase of the easement.
     8         (3)  Unless otherwise authorized in accordance with
     9     subsection (i), if the land subject to the agricultural
    10     conservation easement is no longer viable agricultural land,
    11     the Commonwealth, subject to the approval of the State board,
    12     and the county, subject to the approval of the county board,
    13     may sell, convey, extinguish, lease, encumber or restrict an
    14     agricultural conservation easement to the current owner of
    15     record of the farmland subject to the easement after the
    16     expiration of 25 years from the date of purchase of the
    17     easement for a purchase price equal to the value at the time
    18     of resale determined pursuant to subsection (f) at the time
    19     of conveyance. A conveyance by the Commonwealth pursuant to
    20     this subsection shall not be subject to the requirements of
    21     Article XXIV-A of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175),
    22     known as "The Administrative Code of 1929." The purchase
    23     price shall be payable to the Commonwealth and the county as
    24     their respective legal interests in the agricultural
    25     conservation easement appear, and a separate payment shall be
    26     made to the Commonwealth and the county accordingly at the
    27     time of settlement. Any payment received by the Commonwealth
    28     pursuant to this provision shall be paid into the fund.
    29         (4)  Instruments and documents for the purchase, sale and
    30     conveyance of agricultural conservation easements shall be
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     1     approved by the State board or the county board, as the case
     2     may be, prior to execution and delivery. Proper releases from
     3     mortgage holders and lienholders must be obtained and
     4     executed to insure that all agricultural conservation
     5     easements are purchased free and clear of all encumbrances.
     6         (5)  Whenever any public entity, authority or political
     7     subdivision exercises the power of eminent domain and
     8     condemns land subject to an agricultural conservation
     9     easement, the condemnor shall provide just compensation to
    10     the owner of the land in fee and to the owner of the easement
    11     as follows:
    12             (i)  The owner of the land in fee shall be paid the
    13         full value which would have been payable to the owner but
    14         for the existence of an agricultural conservation
    15         easement less the value of the agricultural conservation
    16         easement at the time of condemnation.
    17             (ii)  The owner of the easement shall be paid the
    18         value of the easement at the time of condemnation.
    19             (iii)  For easements owned jointly by the
    20         Commonwealth and an eligible county, if the eligible
    21         county commits its share of funds received under this
    22         paragraph toward the purchase of agricultural
    23         conservation easements, the condemnor shall provide the
    24         Commonwealth's share of funds to the eligible county for
    25         use in purchasing agricultural conservation easements in
    26         accordance with this act.
    27             (iv)  For easements owned by the Commonwealth, the
    28         condemnor shall provide the Commonwealth's share of funds
    29         received under this paragraph to the eligible county for
    30         use in purchasing agricultural conservation easements in
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     1         accordance with this act.
     2             (v)  Funds received by an eligible county under this
     3         paragraph shall not be considered matching funds under
     4         subsection (h).
     5             (vi)  If an eligible county which receives funds
     6         under this paragraph fails to spend the Commonwealth's
     7         share of funds within two years of receipt of the funds,
     8         the eligible county shall pay the Commonwealth the
     9         Commonwealth's share of funds received under this
    10         paragraph plus 6% simple interest. These funds shall be
    11         deposited into the Agricultural Conservation Easement
    12         Purchase Fund.
    13         (6)  An agricultural conservation easement shall not
    14     prevent:
    15             (i)  The granting of leases, assignments or other
    16         conveyances or the issuing of permits, licenses or other
    17         authorization for the exploration, development, storage
    18         or removal of coal by underground mining methods, oil and
    19         gas by the owner of the subject land or the owner of the
    20         underlying coal by underground mining methods, oil and
    21         gas or the owner of the rights to develop the underlying
    22         coal by underground mining methods, oil and gas, or the
    23         development of appurtenant facilities related to the
    24         removal of coal by underground mining methods, oil or gas
    25         development or activities incident to the removal or
    26         development of such minerals.
    27             (ii)  The granting of rights-of-way by the owner of
    28         the subject land in and through the land for trails for
    29         nonmotorized use, in accordance with paragraph (9) or the
    30         installation of, transportation of, or use of water,
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     1         sewage, electric, telephone, coal by underground mining
     2         methods, gas, oil or oil products lines.
     3             (iii)  Construction and use of structures on the
     4         subject land necessary for agricultural production or a
     5         commercial equine activity.
     6             (iv)  Construction and use of structures on the
     7         subject land for the landowner's principal residence or
     8         for the purpose of providing necessary housing for
     9         seasonal or full-time employees: Provided, That only one
    10         such structure may be constructed on no more than two
    11         acres of the subject land during the term of the
    12         agricultural conservation easement[.]: and Provided
    13         further, That the owner of the land subject to the
    14         agricultural conservation easement may relinquish and
    15         extinguish the right of construction and use of
    16         structures conferred by this clause by recording, in the
    17         office for the recording of deeds in the county in which
    18         the land subject to the agricultural conservation
    19         easement is located, an affidavit evidencing the intent
    20         to relinquish and extinguish.
    21             (v)  Customary part-time or off-season minor or rural
    22         enterprises and activities which are provided for in the
    23         county Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase
    24         Program approved by the State board under subsection (d).
    25             (vi)  Commercial equine activity on the subject land.
    26         (7)  Land subject to an agricultural conservation
    27     easement shall not be subdivided for any purpose which may
    28     harm the economic viability of the farmland for agricultural
    29     production. Land may be subdivided prior to the granting of
    30     an agricultural conservation easement, provided that
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     1     subdividing will not harm the economic viability for
     2     agricultural production of the land subject to the easement.
     3         (8)  Nothing in this act shall prohibit a member of the
     4     State board or county board or his or her family from selling
     5     a conservation easement under this program, provided that all
     6     decisions made regarding easement purchases be subject to the
     7     provisions of section 3(j) of the act of October 4, 1978
     8     (P.L.883, No.170), referred to as the Public Official and
     9     Employee Ethics Law.
    10         (9)  The owner of the land subject to an agricultural
    11     conservation easement may permit or authorize the use of a
    12     portion of the subject land for a trail under the following
    13     conditions:
    14             (i)  the portion of land does not exceed 20 feet in
    15         width;
    16             (ii)  the portion of land is used as a trail for
    17         nonmotorized passive recreational use;
    18             (iii)  the portion of land is available to the public
    19         for use without charge;
    20             (iv)  the use of the portion of land as a trail shall
    21         not convert land which is devoted primarily to
    22         agricultural production or commercial equine activity;
    23         and
    24             (v)  if the owner of land subject to an agricultural
    25         conservation easement permits or authorizes the use of a
    26         portion of the subject land for a trail, the owner may
    27         enter into an agreement with a local government unit or
    28         an eligible nonprofit entity permitting or authorizing
    29         its use of the portion of land as a trail. The agreement
    30         shall be recorded with the county recorder of deeds.
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     1     * * *
     2     (i)  Subdivision of land after easement purchase.--
     3         (1)  Each county program shall specify the conditions
     4     under which the subdivision of land subject to an
     5     agricultural conservation easement may be permitted. In no
     6     case, however, shall a county program permit a subdivision
     7     which will:
     8             (i)  harm the economic viability of the farmland for
     9         agricultural production; or
    10             (ii)  convert land which has been devoted primarily
    11         to agricultural use to another primary use, except that a
    12         county program may permit one subdivision for the purpose
    13         of the construction of a principal residence for the
    14         landowner or an immediate family member, subject to this
    15         right being relinquished and extinguished in accordance
    16         with subsection (c)(6)(iv).
    17         (2)  The county board may agree to permit a parcel of
    18     land subject to an agricultural conservation easement to be
    19     subdivided after the granting of such easement as follows:
    20             (i)  The landowner of record may submit an
    21         application, in such form and manner as the county board
    22         may prescribe, to the county board requesting that a
    23         parcel of the land subject to an easement be subdivided.
    24         Upon receipt of the application, the county board shall
    25         cause to be forwarded written notification thereof to the
    26         county zoning office, county planning office and county
    27         farmland preservation office, herein referred to as the
    28         reviewing agencies. Each reviewing agency shall have 60
    29         days from receipt of such notification to review, comment
    30         and make recommendations on the proposed application to
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     1         the county board.
     2             (ii)  After reviewing the application and the
     3         comments and recommendations submitted by the reviewing
     4         agencies, the county board shall approve or reject the
     5         application to subdivide within 120 days after the date
     6         of its filing unless the time is extended by mutual
     7         agreement of the landowner and reviewing agencies.
     8             (iii)  If the application to subdivide land is
     9         approved by the county board, a copy of the application,
    10         along with the comments and recommendations of the
    11         reviewing agencies, shall be forwarded to the State board
    12         for review and approval or disapproval. When reviewing an
    13         application to subdivide land subject to an agricultural
    14         conservation easement, the State board shall consider
    15         only whether the application complies with the conditions
    16         under which subdivisions are permitted by the approved
    17         county program. The State board shall notify the county
    18         board of its decision regarding the application.
    19             (iv)  If the application to subdivide is rejected by
    20         the county board, the application shall be returned to
    21         the landowner with a written statement of the reasons for
    22         such rejection. Within 30 days after the receipt of the
    23         statement of rejection, the landowner may appeal the
    24         rejection in accordance with 2 Pa.C.S. Ch. 5 Subch. B
    25         (relating to practice and procedure of local agencies)
    26         and Ch. 7 Subch. B (relating to judicial review of local
    27         agency action).
    28     * * *
    29     (l)  Ordinances.--Notwithstanding the provisions of the act
    30  of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as the "Pennsylvania
    20080H2524B3757                  - 8 -     

     1  Municipalities Planning Code," or any other provision of law, an
     2  ordinance may not authorize the transfer of development rights
     3  from land subject to an agricultural conservation easement.
     4  Ordinances that have created transferable development rights
     5  shall be deemed amended consistent with this subsection.
     6     Section 2.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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