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In re Agricultural Security Area in East Lampeter Township

May 27, 2009

IN RE: AGRICULTURAL SECURITY AREA IN EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP
JOE ESH, DANIEL STOLTZFUS, ABNER BEILER, ELMER PETERSHEIM, AARON FISHER, DAVID SMUCKER, KEN DENLINGER, JIM DENLINGER, DAVID BEILER, ISSAC STOLTZFUS AND JOHN STOLTZFUS
v.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McGINLEY

Argued: March 30, 2009

BEFORE: HONORABLE BERNARD L. McGINLEY, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JOSEPH F. McCLOSKEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

The Board of Supervisors (Board of Supervisors) of East Lampeter Township (Township) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County (common pleas court) that reversed the Board of Supervisors' denial of Appellees'*fn1 petition to create an Agricultural Security Area (ASA) in the Township.

On June 27, 2007, Appellees filed a petition to establish an ASA pursuant to the "Agricultural Area Security Law" (Law).*fn2 Pursuant to Section 4 of the Law, 3 P.S. § 904, the Board of Supervisors created an Agricultural Security Area Advisory Committee (ASAAC).*fn3 Appellees' petition was referred to the ASAAC and the Township Planning Commission for review and recommendations.*fn4 Public hearings were conducted on October 30, 2007, and November 14, 2007.

The Board of Supervisors made the following pertinent findings of fact:

1. 100% of the land proposed under the petition is in soil classes I through IV.

2. Several of the farms proposed for inclusion in the ASA are adjacent to an adopted Urban Growth Area or Village Growth Area.

3. Each land owner on the petition proposes to include all of the identified properties in the ASA.

4. All of the land proposed by the property owners is currently being used for agricultural purposes.

5. The only improvements on these properties are farm buildings, farm houses or farm support business structures.

6. Agricultural economic and technological conditions in the community remain stable. Farming in East Lampeter Township continues to be productive and viable. In addition, the value of farm land is increasing.

7. East Lampeter has adopted a comprehensive plan which provides for the continuation of agriculture in the Township. This plan directs urban and village style growth away from agricultural areas. (emphasis added).

8. East Lampeter Township has an effective zoning ordinance which supports the comprehensive plan and prohibits inappropriate development in ...


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