Farmland & Open Space Preservation
To view our April 14, 2022 agenda, please (click here
To view our October 14, 2021 draft minutes, please (click here
On the Primary Election Ballot held on Tuesday May 21, 2019 the voters of North Whitehall Township approved an assessment of 0.1 mill of assessed property tax to be used for Farmland and Open Space Preservation. The current Township property tax is 0.5 mill (1/2 of 1%) thus the approved increase would place the property tax at 0.6 mill. At the Township’s current assessed value, the Farmland and Open Space Preservation assessment will generate approximately $140,000 in revenue annually.
The funds that are raised from this tax assessment will be placed in a separate restricted account that may not be used for other Township purposes. The money will be allocated by the Board of Supervisors to purchase Farm Preservation Easements or Open Space. The Township will begin collecting funds in 2020. The Farmland Preservation Committee is currently working out the details of the program. At this time, property owners who wish to preserve property must work through Lehigh County. The Township does anticipate that this program may expand in the future to include Open Space preservation.
The first step toward preservation is to have your property entered into the Township’s Agricultural Security Area. This page includes a link to a map of the properties currently entered in the Township’s Agricultural Security Area as well as information and an application for the Agricultural Security Area (ASA).
Once the property is entered into the ASA, you must apply to Lehigh County’s Agricultural Land Preservation program. Each property is evaluated and assessed by the County based on a list of criteria. Properties receiving the highest ranking may receive up to the maximum of $6,000. per acre. Less desirable property may receive less. The goal of this referendum is to create a fund to provide assistance to the Lehigh County program. Municipalities that can provide funding help stretch the available County funding and help get more properties into the program. This page includes a link to a map of the properties in North Whitehall Township which are currently preserved by Lehigh County as well as information and an application for Lehigh County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program. Additional information can be found at the County’s website:
Once a farm or property is preserved, the owner may not develop the property for any uses other than farming, timbering or other farm related activities. It may not be sold to a developer who would like to build houses or businesses. Once a property is preserved, it may still be sold to a new owner, but the restrictions against development carry with the property.
The Farmland Preservation Committee will be meeting on February 10, April 14, July 14, and October 13 in 2022. Meetings are at 7:30pm unless noted otherwise.