Construction on Farms & Permitting
Construction activities on farms require a written Erosion and Sedimentation (E&S) Control Plan when disturbing more than 5,000 sq. ft., as with any other type of construction (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.). For activities that are less than 5,000 sq. ft., Best Management Practices (BMPs) need to be installed to minimize erosion and sedimentation, as well as to conserve your farm’s natural resources. NPDES Permits are required for planned disturbances of over 1 acre when building structures such as barns, manure storages, houses, silos, bunk silos, etc. Permits are to be issued prior to commencement of earthmoving. Normal plowing and tilling and the installation of BMPs such as waterways, barnyard improvements and animal walkways may not need an NPDES Permit or construction E&S plan as long as those activities are included and addressed in the farms Ag E&S Plan. As with any construction, activities in or around streams and wetlands may require additional approvals.
Please review this chart, NPDES Requirements for Agricultural Operations, to see if your proposed construction activity may require a permit.
Contact the Conservation District at 814-355-6817 to find out if your proposed activities will necessitate permits, plans and approvals.
There has been an increase in the amount of solar panel construction activities in agriculturally zoned parcels recently. If you are a farm owner considering a commercial solar lease, be sure to contact your local municipality and Conservation District for ordinances and permits related to solar land use. There are also many things to consider in relation to your farm management – the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has a Commercial Solar Lease Frequently Asked Question document. The Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Agricultural and Shale Law also has resources and legal guidance to help-- Utility Solar Scale Leasing: How It Works and When It Doesn't .