Agriculture Security Advisory Committee
The Commonwealth began the Agricultural Security Area (ASA) program in 1981 as a tool for strengthening and protecting agriculture in Pennsylvania. The purpose of being in an ASA is to protect participating farmers from “nuisance” challenges, thus encouraging the continuing use of land for productive agricultural purposes.
In 1991, the Township of Rostraver created an Agriculture Security Advisory Committee. The committee shall consist of three active farmers, each representing a different private or corporate farm, one citizen residing within the unit of local government and one member of the governing body of such local government, who shall serve as the chairperson of the committee.
The current Agriculture Security Advisory Committee consists of: Patrick G. Egros, Brad Martin, Joseph Manack, Vincent Makovics, and William J. Melilli.
1. Noncontiguous farm parcel must be at least 10 acres in size.
2. The property should be viable agricultural land. Cropland, pasture and woodland can all be included in an agricultural security area.
3. At least 50% of the land should be in Soil Capability Classes I-IV, as defined by the county soil survey.
4. The property must be zoned to permit agriculture uses. In the case of Rostraver Township, agriculture uses are only permitted in A-1.
Procedure for Creating Agricultural Security Areas
- Landowners submit a petition to create an Agricultural Security Area to the township supervisors. The petition must include the signatures and address of the landowners, tax parcel numbers, and the number of acres of each farm tract.
- If the proposed Security Area contains land in more than one township, a petition to create a Security Area must be submitted to each township involved.
- The township supervisors acknowledge the receipt of the petition at their next meeting, publish a notice in the newspaper, and post five notices in the township stating that a petition has been received.
- For 15 days after publishing the notice, the supervisors and the township planning commission may receive proposed modifications to the Security Area from adjacent municipalities or landowners in, adjacent to, or near the proposed Security Area.
- The chairman of the township board of supervisors appoints five persons to the agricultural security area advisory committee: Three farmers, one non-farmer and one supervisor who will serve as the chairman of the committee.
- The township supervisors, at the expiration of the 15-day period for receiving proposed modifications, send the Security Area proposal and any modification received to the township planning commission and advisory committee. Each body may take up to 45 days to make a recommendation to the supervisors of whether or not the ASA should be established. (A list of criteria on which to base the recommendations is available from the Agricultural Land Preservation Board.)
- Upon receipt of the recommendations from the advisory committee and the planning commission, the township supervisors hold an advertised public hearing on the proposed ASA. Notice of the hearing is made to each landowner who is included in the proposal for creation of an Agricultural Security Area.
- The township supervisors take action to adopt the ASA proposal or any modification of it. The supervisors must make a decision within 180 days from the date the petition was submitted by the landowners. Failure of the supervisors to act within 180 days shall be deemed adoption of the Security Area proposal as originally submitted without modification.
Additional lands may be added to an existing ASA on a voluntary basis by the landowners at any time.
An addition of land to the existing ASA is subject to the same procedure as in the creation of an Agricultural Security Area.
Agricultural Security Areas shall be reviewed and reestablished every seven years. The seventh year review serves as a way to check whether the agricultural security area continues to make a contribution to the preservation of the agricultural, economic, and environmental well being in the community.
For more information on Agricultural Land Preservation, please contact the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation (Betty J. Reefer at 724-837-8971) or the Pennsylvania Bureau of Farmland Preservation at 717-783-3167.