Township of Halfmoon, PA
Centre County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Halfmoon 5-22-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-02. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 100.
Parkland dedication — See Ch. 166.
Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 215.
Zoning — See Ch. 255.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGREEMENT
Any agreement, lease, purchase or other contract between the landowner and Halfmoon Township for the purpose of acquiring a conservation or preservation easement over land to prevent residential, nonagricultural and non-farm-based commercial, commercial mining, and industrial development.
AGRICULTURE
The customary and generally accepted activities, practices, and procedures that farmers adopt, use, or engage in year after year in the production and preparation for market crops, livestock, and livestock products and in the production and harvesting of agricultural, agronomic, horticultural, silvicultural, and aquacultural crops and commodities.
CLUSTERING
A group of two or more residential units in an area not exceeding more than two acres per dwelling unit with adjoining or abutting areas.
CONSERVATION EASEMENT
A nonpossessory interest of a holder in real property, whether appurtenant or in gross, imposing limitations or affirmative obligations, the purposes of which include, but are not limited to, retaining or protecting for the public and economic benefit the natural scenic or open space values of real property; assuring its availability for agricultural, forest, recreational or open space use; protecting, conserving or managing the use of natural resources; protecting wildlife; maintaining or enhancing land, air or water quality or preserving the historical, architectural, archeological or cultural aspects of property.
LANDOWNER
Owner or owners of the legal title of the land.
OPEN SPACE
Land which has been designated for open space uses in a resource, recreation or land use plan recommended by the Planning Commission, and adopted by the Board of Supervisors, and which may exhibit the characteristics and/or uses as follows:
A. 
Farmland, working farms and agricultural uses;
B. 
Forests and land being used to produce timber crops;
C. 
Scenic areas for public visual enjoyment from public rights-of-way;
D. 
Undeveloped land areas between communities that are primarily residential;
E. 
The presence of natural and scenic resources, including but not limited to soils, streams, floodplains, steep slopes or marshes;
F. 
Presence of water resources and watershed areas, including natural covers which help prevent floods and soil erosion thereby protecting water quality and replenishing surface water and groundwater supplies; or
G. 
Sites of particular historic, geologic, animal habitat or botanic interest.
PRESERVATION EASEMENT
A nonpossessory interest in an historical building.
The purposes of the open space preservation program of Halfmoon Township are to obtain for the citizens of the Township those open space benefits that result from the preservation or restriction of use of undeveloped open space. These purposes will be advanced by using funds provided as the result of the open space referendum to acquire conservation and preservation easements on appropriate properties in the Township. Open space benefits include:
A. 
Preservation of water resources and watersheds;
B. 
Preservation of forest land;
C. 
Preservation of farmland;
D. 
Preservation of wildlife habitat;
E. 
Preservation of existing or planned conservation, park or recreation sites;
F. 
Preservation of natural and scenic resources;
G. 
Preservation of scenic viewscapes;
H. 
Preservation of sites of historic, geologic, animal habitat or botanic interest;
I. 
Promotion of sound and efficient land development by preserving open space between communities.
The Board of Supervisors shall appoint an Open Space Preservation Board (OSPB) to assist the Board of Supervisors in devising and implementing procedures for preserving open space and for efficient use of funds provided under the open space preservation program.
A. 
Duties.
[Amended 8-14-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-3; 8-11-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-03; 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
(1) 
Recommendations. The OSPB shall be advisory to the Board of Supervisors and shall make recommendations concerning:
(a) 
Terms and conditions of agreements for the purpose of acquiring conservation and preservation easements;
(b) 
Procedures and criteria for selecting properties for conservation and preservation easements;
(c) 
Specific properties to be selected for conservation and preservation easements;
(d) 
Application and acceptance procedures;
[Amended 9-12-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-11A]
(e) 
Subdivision exception for non-open space uses as permitted under § 163-4E; and
(f) 
Termination of agreements.
(2) 
Membership.
[Amended 4-12-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
(a) 
The OSPB shall be comprised of seven residents of the Township who shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The membership shall include one sitting member of the Board of Supervisors, one sitting member of the Planning Commission, and five additional residents of the Township (the "resident members"). Terms of office of the resident members of the OSPB shall be staggered four-year terms. Upon expiration of a term, serving members shall be eligible to be reappointed at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. In the event of a vacancy, the Board shall appoint a resident to fill such vacancy for the unexpired portion of the term.
(b) 
For members of the OSPB representing the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission, terms of service shall be for a one-year period with appointments made at the annual reorganization meeting for the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors may solicit input from the Planning Commission for its representative member.
(3) 
Alternate members. The Board of Supervisors may appoint up to two members whom shall be residents of the Township to serve as alternate members of the Open Space Preservation Board. Alternate members shall have no voting rights unless a member of the Open Space Preservation Board has been excused from any proceedings of the Board due to conflict of interest in a matter before the Board or if the alternate member is attending a meeting of the Board on behalf of a regular member who cannot attend.
(4) 
Officers. The OSPB shall elect a Chair and Vice Chair.
[Amended 4-12-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
(5) 
Recording Secretary. The Board of Supervisors shall appoint a Recording Secretary, who shall take and record minutes of proceedings of the Open Space Preservation Board. The Board of Supervisors may affix such reasonable compensation as the Board of Supervisors shall deem appropriate for work provided to the Open Space Preservation Board.
(6) 
Meetings. The OSPB shall meet on the call of the Chair. The Chair shall call an organizational meeting in January of each year, at which meeting the OSPB shall elect a Chair and Vice Chair. If a member misses more than three consecutive meetings, that member may be replaced at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.
[Amended 4-12-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
(7) 
Rules. Four members of the OSPB are required to constitute a quorum. Business shall be transacted by majority vote of those members in attendance.
[Amended 4-12-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
B. 
Records.
[Amended 4-12-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
(1) 
Repository of records. The Program Administrator shall establish and maintain a repository of records of the interest in real property that have been or are acquired by the OSPB. This repository of records shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) 
All materials received from landowners applying for conservation or preservation easements;
(b) 
The minutes of meetings of the OSPB at which applications for conservation easements are considered or acted upon;
(c) 
The minutes of meetings of the Board of Supervisors at which selection of the properties for conservation or preservation easements are considered; and
(d) 
Complete records of properties to which conservation or preservation easements have been awarded. These shall include the agreements establishing the conservation or preservation easements, records of payments to landowners, records of any subdivisions and reports of compliance monitoring.
(2) 
Record of interest in the office of the Recorder of Deeds. The Program Administrator shall record each interest in real property acquired by the Township in the Recorder of Deeds' office of Centre County, Pennsylvania.
(3) 
Notice to school district. The Program Administrator shall also submit to the school district within which the property is located a copy of the deed reflecting the open space property interest acquisition certified by the County Recorder of Deeds.
C. 
Administration.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4; amended 9-12-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-11A]
(1) 
Program administration.
(a) 
The Program Administrator is an employee of the Township and as such will go through the Township’s selection, hiring, promotion and termination process as any other employee and their job description.
(b) 
The Program Administrator shall be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of any records of the open space preservation program of the Township as listed but not limited to records listed in Subsection B(1)(a) through (d).
(c) 
The Program Administrator shall be responsible for the posting of all notices that are required under and subject to public notice.
(d) 
The Program Administrator is responsible for carrying out the requirements specified in this chapter.
The purpose of the conservation and preservation easements shall be to preserve, maintain, conserve, promote and protect agriculture, farm land, agricultural activities, and open space lands for all of the purposes recited in this chapter, including forest land, farm land, natural and scenic resources, water resources, recreation and wildlife habitat and shall be implemented by use of agreements between the Township and the landowner.
A. 
Open space land. The subject land shall be currently open space land as defined in § 163-1 of this chapter. The land shall be conducive for the continuation of the current open space uses.
B. 
Permitted uses. The landowner may make all use of the subject land subject to zoning restrictions and applicable law that is consistent with the intent of keeping the subject land open space land. The phrase "keeping the subject land open space land" includes the right to maintain any and all existing buildings, roads, fences, fish ponds, and drainage ditches, and to construct and operate barns, fences and other structures or facilities necessary or useful to agriculture and related activities, subject to obtaining all consents and permits lawfully required therefor. Future uses consistent with these purposes shall be permitted, subject to zoning restrictions, without restriction. Future uses that are inconsistent with these purposes, or that have the potential to interfere or conflict with these purposes, shall not be permitted under the terms of any conservation and preservation agreement between the Township and landowner.
C. 
Prohibited uses. Residential, commercial, industrial, nonagricultural and non-farm-based commercial mining uses as defined in Chapter 255, Zoning, of the Code of the Township of Halfmoon are prohibited uses of the open space land. The subject land shall not be used for any purposes that interfere or conflict with the intent of keeping the premises open space land:
(1) 
Timber restriction. Any timber cutting on the subject land for the landowner's personal or agricultural use shall be without restriction. Timber cutting operations where lumber is sold for use off the property shall be in compliance with the state regulations as set forth under "Best Management Practices of Pennsylvania Forests."
(2) 
Commercial mining restriction. The landowner is permitted to quarry and/or mine materials in a total amount per year of 10,000 tons for agricultural or maintenance uses on the subject land. No material shall be mined or quarried for sale off the subject land.
(3) 
Outdoor advertising restriction. Except for signs identifying the property, or advertising products provided from the open space uses of the property, outdoor advertising and billboards are not permitted. All signs must comply with Chapter 255, Zoning, sign requirements.
D. 
Open space land use restrictions.
[Amended 3-10-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01]
(1) 
Farm structures. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the construction of farm structures necessary for the production, storage, or keeping of livestock and agricultural products. All permits for buildings and/or zoning shall be issued in accordance with Chapter 255, Zoning, requirements in effect at the time of the application for permit.
(2) 
Farm worker housing. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent construction of single-family residences or dormitory housing for farm workers up to a maximum of two residences or dormitory housing for up to a maximum of eight workers for each 60 acres included in the leased premises. It is strongly recommended that if such residences are built that they be clustered. If this option is exercised and one or more of these dwellings arc to be sold, the land upon which these dwellings arc built shall not be less than two acres per dwelling unit, including all rights-of-way, whether in fee simple or otherwise, and shall be subdivided and shall be included in the 10% exception for non-open space use as described in Subsection F and Zoning and Subdivision Regulations of the Township.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 215, Subdivision and Land Development.
(3) 
Permits. A parcel of 11 acres or greater in size, which when placed into the open space preservation program did not contain a residence of any type, may be eligible for the issuance of a zoning, building and septic permits for one single-family residence and permitted accessory uses, provided that all applicable building and zoning regulations have been satisfied.
E. 
Open space land subdivision restrictions.
[Amended 12-11-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-4; 3-10-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01]
(1) 
Subdivision exception for land to remain in open space program:
(a) 
Eleven-acre minimum parcel for subdivision.
(b) 
No parcel containing less than 11 acres shall be subdivided from the leased premises.
(c) 
Subdivided lands remain subject to the easement and provisions of the ordinance.
(d) 
No sewer or zoning permits. New tax parcels created after the implementation of this lease shall be ineligible for sewer, building and zoning permits for residential use until after this lease expires, except as provided in Subsection D above.
(e) 
Township permit requirements. Once the lease expires, any subdivided parcel(s) shall be subject to compliance with Township requirements before obtaining septic, building, zoning or other permits.
(f) 
Lot additions. It is strongly recommended that any subdivided parcel be done as a lot addition to adjoining property that is in the open space preservation program.
(g) 
Septic systems. Soil testing for a septic system is not required for this type of open space subdivision.
(2) 
Subdivision exception for land to be removed from the open space program:
(a) 
The landowner having 60 acres or more in the program may subdivide up to 10% of land leased under the open space preservation program for non-open-space uses, and this option may be granted at any time during the lease term.
(b) 
This grant/option may be used more than once with a maximum total land subdivided being not more than 10% of the total land leased.
(c) 
The subdivided parcels shall conform to all subdivision, land development and zoning regulations of the Township.
(d) 
The landowner(s) shall pay for all costs of amending associated with amending the open space lease and subdivision.
(e) 
Repayment of advance. In the event an advance was paid under § 163-8 on the subdivided portion, such advance shall be repaid on that portion at the amount paid per acre when the advance was made. The reimbursement is due and payable at the time of recordation of the subdivision or deed.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection F, Subdivision exception for lands placed in the open space program, which immediately followed this subsection, was repealed 3-10-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01.
A. 
Decisions. The review process below shall be used for the following decisions:
(1) 
Awards of conservation or preservation easement agreements.
(2) 
Subdivision under the ten-percent exception for non-open space use.
(3) 
Termination of conservation or preservation agreements under § 163-9.
B. 
Application process for entering into easement agreements under Subsection A(1). By August 31 of the year before they wish the easement to become effective, landowners that wish to enter into an agreement to create a conservation or preservation easement shall submit a completed application to the administrative offices of the Township of Halfmoon. In order to protect the interest of the Township, any easement agreement with the Township must have the first lien position on the property. If mortgage or other encumbrances exist on the applicant’s property, the applicant shall be responsible for obtaining consent from the encumbrance holder allowing the conservation easement to be recorded in first position. This may include, but is not limited to, subordination agreements, lien releases or mortgage lender approvals. The applicant shall be responsible for obtaining such documentation and for all costs associated with such documentation, including document preparation fees, recording fees, and appraisal fees, if determined to be necessary.
[Amended 12-11-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-4; 7-14-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-01]
(1) 
Application. The application shall include all of the following:
(a) 
A completed application form showing the names of the owners, the location of the tract, and the area of the tract;
(b) 
A list of all liens on the property and those that hold the liens with their contact information:
(c) 
A copy of a recorded deed;
(d) 
An aerial photograph of the property with an overlay drawing of the tract showing the location of the structures, roads and other man-made features; present uses of the land; and natural features. The applicant will add the man-made and prominent natural features, and the present land uses, as required. To facilitate preparation of this drawing, the Township will provide a representation of the parcel as shown on the Tax Map;
(e) 
If the landowner is willing to offer the Township options for any other interest in his or her real property, such as the lease or sale or permanent easements to the Township, this desire should be indicated in the application;
(f) 
The application form shall include a section for authorization for Township officials to make on-site inspections of the property as part of the application review;
(g) 
The application form shall include a section for authorization for the Township and its Solicitor to conduct a title search of the property and for the landowner to cooperate in any way in order to complete said search. A portion of the tax revenues received by the Township pursuant to and authorized by Resolution 1999-21 and Act 153 shall be used to pay the costs and fees incurred by the Township for the title search, which said title search is necessary for the Township to purchase open space property interests from a landowner. However, any additional costs or costs associated by insuring the Township's easement is in first lien position shall be borne solely by the applicant.
(h) 
The application form shall include a section for authorization where the applicant indicates that to be eligible to be admitted to the program, the applicant must authorize the obtaining of title insurance satisfactory to the Township Solicitor. The applicant will be responsible for obtaining and providing 100% of the cost of the title insurance policy or title binder upon successful entry into the program.
(2) 
Selection process.
(a) 
Open Space Preservation Board. In selecting properties to be recommended for conservation or preservation easements, the Open Space Preservation Board (OSPB) shall:
[1] 
Verify that the tract is designated for open space uses in a resource, recreation or land use plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors and currently in effect. A copy of the land rating plan will be given to the applicant upon submitting the application. The land rating system shall be reviewed by the Open Space Preservation Board on an annual basis with any suggested modifications, changes, or additions submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
[2] 
Rank the tract according to the land rating system developed for this purpose.
[3] 
The OSPB shall conduct an on-site inspection of the properties prior to the application being approved.
(b) 
The Planning Commission.
[1] 
The Planning Commission shall receive and review recommendations from the OSPB on which landowners should be extended offers to enter into agreements creating conservation or preservation easements on their property. The Planning Commission may request any supporting information from the OSPB.
[2] 
After reviewing and considering the recommendations from the OSPB, the Planning Commission shall make its own recommendations.
(c) 
The Board of Supervisors. After receiving recommendations from the OSPB and the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, at its discretion, shall direct the Township Solicitor to order a title search and to render a title opinion within 30 days from receipt of the OSPB and Planning Commission recommendations. If, when conducting the title search, the Township Solicitor sees there are any prior liens on the property which would not allow for the Township conservation easement to be in first lien position upon its recording, the Township Solicitor shall notify the Program Administrator as well as prepare the documentation necessary to effectuate the Township's first lien position. The Program Administrator shall then contact the applicant regarding what documentation is necessary and the costs for same.
(d) 
Prior to the Township acquiring any interest under the leasing process, the applicant must obtain title insurance. The applicant will be responsible for obtaining and providing 100% of the cost of the title insurance policy or title binder upon successful entry into the program satisfactory to the Township Solicitor. In the event the Township Solicitor discovers a defect in the landowner's title or the Solicitor recommends that the landowner's title to the property is not satisfactory, Halfmoon Township assumes no liability and/or responsibility to correct that title.
(e) 
Upon receipt of the title opinion and executed documentation deemed necessary by the Township Solicitor to effectuate the Township's first lien position, the Board of Supervisors shall take the following actions:
[1] 
The Board of Supervisors shall hold a public hearing(s) at which time the Township shall set forth the easements to be arranged and the expected open space benefits. Prior to the public hearing, notice(s) of the public hearing(s) shall be given to all owners of interest in real property being considered for a conservation or preservation easement, and to any other local government in which the property is located, in written form, not less than seven days prior to the public hearing(s) or more than 30 days prior to the public hearing(s).
[2] 
Within 30 days of the last public hearing for any application, the Board of Supervisors shall decide, based upon the results of the land rating system, financial resources available, title search, title opinion, and first lien documentation and comments derived from public hearing(s), which landowners will be offered agreements to create conservation or preservation easements and shall formally extend those offers to the landowners in written form.
[3] 
Agreements between landowners and the Township establishing a conservation easement shall be signed within 45 days of the date of the last public hearing held on the application.
(f) 
In the event the Township Solicitor discovers a defect in a landowner's title, the landowner cannot secure first lien position for the Township, or the Solicitor recommends that the landowner's title to the property is not satisfactory, Halfmoon Township assumes no liability and/or responsibility to correct that title.
C. 
Procedure for subdivision exception under Subsection A(2).
[Amended 7-14-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-01]
(1) 
Open Space Preservation Board.
(a) 
Applications, and any supporting information, shall be submitted to the OSPB.
(b) 
If the application concerns a subdivision exception, applications shall include an explanatory letter detailing the landowner's proposal, and a drawing of the proposed subdivision. The drawing shall include all proposed buildings and/or structures. The OSPB shall request any additional information from the applicant as may be necessary to consider the application.
(c) 
The OSPB shall consider the application, and supporting information, at a public meeting, and make its recommendation directly to the Board of Supervisors.
(d) 
The OSPB shall also submit a copy of the application, supporting information, and its recommendation to the Planning Commission.
(2) 
Planning Commission. After receiving the application, supporting information, and OSPB recommendations, the Planning Commission shall make its own recommendations directly to the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission may request any supporting information from the OSPB.
(3) 
Board of Supervisors.
(a) 
After receiving the recommendations from both the OSPB and the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors shall make the final decision on applications submitted under this section.
(b) 
When considering applications for subdivisions under the ten-percent exception, the Board of Supervisors shall make its decision based upon whether the proposed subdivision creates a use of the subject premises that is conducive to continuing the current use of the open space as a whole cohesive unit.
Halfmoon Township shall have the right to prevent and correct violations of an easement agreement:
A. 
Right of entry. With reasonable advance notice to landowner, as provided herein, Halfmoon Township and/or its representatives may enter the property for the purpose of inspecting for violations to ensure that all provisions of the agreement have been and are being met by the landowner, under terms set forth in the easement agreement. Said entry is limited to one visit every five years, which shall be for a duration of up to six hours to physically inspect the premises. Said entry shall be preceded by written notice to the landowner of Halfmoon Township's desire to enter the premises. To the extent a landowner refuses to allow the Township right of entry for such inspection, such refusal shall constitute a violation under the lease and Halfmoon Township can exercise remedies identified in Subsection C below.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
B. 
Flyovers and aerial photography. Halfmoon Township has the right to monitor the premises and all activities that take place on or near the premises at any time by an aerial survey. This right allows Halfmoon Township and/or its designated representatives to fly over the premises for the purposes of visual inspection and/or aerial photography, providing that said overflights are conducted in such a way so as not to disturb or interfere with the landowner's agricultural operations and/or other bona fide business activities, and the landowner's right to the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of his or her property. In the event such usual inspection and/or aerial photograph reveal noncompliant activity, Halfmoon Township and/or its representatives shall have an additional right to inspect the property.
C. 
Remedies. If Halfmoon Township determines that a violation may exist, it may, at its discretion, take enforcement action, including the imposition of all reasonable costs and attorneys' fees for such enforcement. Except when an ongoing or imminent violation could irreversibly diminish or impair the open space value or character of the premises, Halfmoon Township shall give the landowner written notice of the violation and 90 days to correct it before filing any legal action. If a court with jurisdiction determines that a violation may exist or has occurred, Halfmoon Township may obtain an injunction to stop it, temporarily or permanently. A court may also issue an injunction requiring the landowner to restore the easement premises to its condition prior to the violation. Further, a court, in addition, may impose a fine in an amount not to exceed the cost of restoration. The failure of Halfmoon Township to discover a violation or to take immediate legal action shall not constitute a waiver of its rights of enforcement nor bar it from enforcing the provisions of the agreement at a later time.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
[Amended 7-14-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-01; 9-12-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-11A]
The term of a conservation or preservation easement lease shall be for an initial term of 99 years, unless terminated at an earlier date or extended to a later date under the provisions set forth in the lease. The form of the lease shall be substantially in the form as resolved by the Board of Supervisors by resolution of the Township. The Board of Supervisors may modify the form of the lease by resolution, upon published notice of its intent to modify the form of the lease and receipt of the recommendation of the OSPB on the proposed modification. All costs associated with any amendments needed on the lease after its recording shall by borne by the leaseholder.
[Added 8-11-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-03; amended 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4; 9-12-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-11A]
The purpose of the conservation and preservation easements shall be to preserve, maintain, conserve, promote and protect agriculture, farmland, agricultural activities, and open space lands for all of the purposes recited in this chapter, including forestland, farmland, natural and scenic resources, water resources, recreation and wildlife habitat, and shall be implemented by use of agreements between the Township and the landowner. In order to promote this program, the Board of Supervisors from time to time may permit holders of conservation leases or applicants for conservation leases to apply for an advance payment option.
A. 
The Board of Supervisors, after review of the financial resources available, may from time to time give notice that advance lease payments may be available to holders of conservation lease agreements and applicants for new conservation lease agreements.
B. 
If the Board of Supervisors deems advance payments may be available, advance payments will only be given under the following conditions:
(1) 
The Township remains and is in first lien position on the property;
(2) 
The leaseholder executes a promissory note and mortgage securing all advance payments to be recorded as a lien against the property.
C. 
Review process.
(1) 
The Open Space Preservation Board and Municipal Planning Commission shall submit a recommendation for advance payment to the Board of Supervisors.
(2) 
The Board of Supervisors, after receiving comment from the Open Space Preservation Board and the Planning Commission, shall review the recommendations of both boards as well as the Township's Treasurer modeling as to what the advance payment would implicate as to the future financial condition of the Open Space Program. If, after review of all documentation, the Board of Supervisors wishes to grant an advance payment, it shall set the matter for public hearing at a regular Board of Supervisors meeting.
(3) 
The Board of Supervisors may make a final determination on the application after the public hearing.
(4) 
Calculation of the amount of advance rent payment. The total amount for an advanced payment shall be calculated using the annual rental amount in effect during the year in which the advance payment is made. There shall be no adjustment in the amount of the payment to compensate for any anticipated increase in the CPI during the period for which the advanced payment is made.
(5) 
Date of payment of advanced payments. The payment of any advance rent due on any conservation lease agreement shall be made on or before December 31 of the fiscal year that such an agreement has been approved by both the Township and the landowner.
(6) 
Requests for advance payments that extend beyond the term of the lease. No request for an advanced payment shall be approved if the period for which payment is requested extends beyond the term of the lease.
[Added 8-11-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-03; 7-14-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-01]
The purpose of conservation and preservation easements shall be to preserve, maintain, conserve, promote and protect agriculture, farm land, agricultural activities and open space lands for all the purposes recited in this chapter. The Township of Halfmoon recognizes that over time and from time to time events beyond the control of the Township of Halfmoon and any landowner may cause and have the effect of the need for the termination of a lease or conservation agreement(s) between the Township of Halfmoon and any landowner or equivalent. Therefore, the Township of Halfmoon does make provisions for such in this section.
A. 
Lack of desirability and/or suitability. In the event that the leased premises are no longer desirable or suitable for open space under the Township open space preservation program, this lease may be terminated with the assent of the landowner and the Open Space Preservation Board, in conjunction with the approval of the Board of Supervisors and the approval of the Planning Commission, procured under the review process in the applicable Township ordinance, and in accordance with applicable law. In the event of a termination of a lease on this basis, the Board of Supervisors shall determine, with the approval of the Planning Commission, that it is essential for the orderly development of an area to terminate or sell the open space property interest. The Township shall offer to transfer said interest to the original property owner from whom said interest was acquired, or his/her estate if the original property owner or his estate is the current property owner, at a price which is equal to the price paid by the Township to the original property owner for said interest. If the Township's offer is not accepted within 90 days, the Township shall then sell the open space interests, after the question is put to the electorate and a majority of the voters participating in said election asset, at public sale in accordance with applicable law.
B. 
Financial hardship (landowner option). In a case where a landowner has land leased under the open space preservation program that is used to generate his primary source of income, and can no longer use such land because of market conditions or high taxes, the landowner may petition the Board of Supervisors for a determination of financial hardship. Upon determination by the Board of Supervisors that continuation of the lease is a financial hardship to the landowner, the Board may agree to terminate the lease in conformance with § 163-9C and D and applicable law.
C. 
Township right to purchase. In the event of a request for termination or a decision by the Board of Supervisors to terminate a lease, not based on lack of suitability or desirability, the Township shall have the first right of refusal to purchase the real property interest if the landowner decides to sell his/her real property interest. The Board of Supervisors shall obtain at least one appraisal on the subject real property by a person authorized to perform an appraisal, and the Supervisors may require the landowner obtain an environmental impact statement. The price paid by the Township for said property cannot exceed the price established by the appraisal; however, if more than one appraisal is obtained, the price paid cannot exceed the average of those appraisals. The Township may purchase such interest on an installment or other deferred basis. If such interest is purchased on an installment or other deferred basis, then the owner of the interest shall receive, in addition to the selling price, interest at the rate set forth in the purchase agreement. All real property acquired in fee simple by the Township must be offered for resale publicly in the manner provided by law within two years of the date of acquisition, subject to restrictive covenants or easement limiting the land to open space uses.
D. 
Request for termination lease having advanced payments paid on lease.
(1) 
Any request for termination of lease not subject to § 163-9A and C. A request for termination shall have been considered filed for the record upon submission of such request to the Board of Supervisors, in writing, by certified mail, not less than one year prior to date of requested termination.
(2) 
Penalty clause. If such request for termination is accepted under provisions of this chapter by the Board of Supervisors, the Board of Supervisors shall make an assessment upon the property. The assessment shall not be less than the total lease payments paid in advance on any lease for the remaining term of any lease that has been paid in advance. Said assessment shall be delivered to the Treasurer of the Township prior to the execution of any termination of lease that has been accepted by the Board of Supervisors.
[Amended 11-11-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-7]
The Board of Supervisors shall organize a review of the activities of the open space preservation program at least one every five years. The Board of Supervisors may, at its discretion, organize such a review at less than a five-year interval with or without a recommendation to do so from the Open Space Preservation Board.
A. 
To organize such a review the Board of Supervisors shall appoint an ad hoc review committee.
B. 
The membership of the review committee shall include:
(1) 
A Chair who is a member of the Board of Supervisors who is not also a member of the Open Space Preservation Board.
(2) 
A member of the Open Space Preservation Board.
(3) 
A member of the Township Planning Commission who is not also a member of the Open Space Preservation Board.
(4) 
One or two citizens of Halfmoon Township who are interested in the open space preservation program.
(5) 
A conservation leaseholder whose land is conserved through the open space preservation program.
(6) 
A representative of the Centre Regional Planning Agency who is not the planner assigned to Halfmoon Township.
(7) 
One or two representatives of governmental agencies or nonprofit organizations who are familiar with land conservation practices.
(8) 
One or more individuals with special expertise in finance and/or areas that the Board of Supervisors believes would be useful in conducting the review.
C. 
The review committee shall be charged to:
(1) 
Review the past activities of the open space preservation program, especially during the most recent five-year period, with respect to:
(a) 
Whether the lands conserved provide the open space benefits outlined in § 163-2 of this chapter and are consistent with the objectives outlined in the specific intent section of the Township's open space preservation and land use plan; and
(b) 
Whether the program has made the most efficient use of the funds available.
(2) 
The review committee shall offer comment on these past activities and, if appropriate, make recommendations for improvements.
(3) 
Consider possible future changes in conservation objectives and in funds that may be available and, if appropriate, make recommendations as to the future direction of the open space preservation program.
(4) 
Undertake other tasks as directed by the BOS.
D. 
The Program Administrator shall provide to the review committee all information relating to the open space preservation program that is necessary to conduct a comprehensive review. This shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(1) 
A current map of the Township showing:
(a) 
The parcels preserved by a conservation lease;
(b) 
The parcels preserved by a conservation easement held by the Township;
(c) 
The parcels preserved by fee simple acquisition by the Township;
(d) 
The remaining parcels that are eligible to be preserved; and
(e) 
The parcels that were eligible for preservation at the beginning of the open space preservation program but that have since been subdivided or developed so as to be ineligible.
(2) 
A table of information about the program that shows, for each year the program was in operation, the following:
(a) 
The number of parcels and the total number of acres newly preserved by conservation lease, conservation easement or fee simple acquisition during each year;
(b) 
The total number of parcels and the total number of acres preserved by the program at the end of each year;
(c) 
The amount of funds received by the program during each year;
(d) 
The rental payment per acre in effect during each year;
(e) 
The amount paid for annual leases during each year;
(f) 
The amount paid for advance payments on leases during each year;
(g) 
The amount paid for conservation easements, fee simple acquisitions, and other expenses during each year;
(h) 
The total amount spent by the program during each year; and
(i) 
The balance remaining in the open space preservation program accounts at the end of each year.
Nothing in this chapter limits, expands, modifies, or preempts the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of operators or other persons under the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act [Act of May 31, 1945 (P.L. 1198, No. 418)][1] or the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act [Act of April 27, 1966 (1st Sp. Sess., P.L. 31, No. 1)][2]. This chapter does not limit or restrict any coal mining activity which was permitted or for which an application for permit was filed prior to the recording of a conservation easement. A conservation interest affecting real property containing a workable coal seam or from which an interest in coal has been severed may not be recorded or effective unless the grantor or owner of the easement signs a statement printed on the conservation lease agreement stating that the easement may impair the development of such coal interest.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 52 P.S. § 1396.1 et seq.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 52 P.S. § 1406.1 et seq.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
A. 
Eligible acquisitions. The Township is authorized to expend funds approved under the open space referendum to acquire property interests to achieve the purposes set forth:
(1) 
Acquisition of conservation easements or fee simple land acquisitions of privately owned properties that are consistent with and for the purposes of the open space preservation program of Halfmoon Township.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
(2) 
Fee simple land acquisitions of privately owned properties on which a conservation lease may be terminated that are consistent with and for the purposes of the open space preservation and land use plan, and provide for the public benefit.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
(3) 
An acquisition by the Township under this chapter may be accomplished by purchase, contract, gift, devise or matching gift or otherwise in accordance with applicable law. An acquisition may also be held jointly with another entity or individual to the extent allowed by law.
B. 
Ineligible acquisitions:
(1) 
[1]Lands already under the protection of a permanent conservation easement where no additional significant public benefit is proposed or may be gained.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection B(1), regarding parcels not consistent with open space preservation, and former Subsection B(2), regarding applications without written consent of the Board of Supervisors, were repealed 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02. This ordinance also provided for the redesignation of Subsection B(3), (4), (5) and (6) as Subsection B(1), (2), (3) and (4), respectively.
(2) 
Leases and other instruments where preservation will not be in perpetuity, excepting those lease(s) issued under other provisions of this chapter.
(3) 
Land used for disposal of sewage of any kind, including sewage-based spray or drip irrigation use; exception: existing primary and secondary sewage disposal sites required for residential uses existing at the time of enrollment.
(4) 
Any current or former landfill site that is known or suspected to be contaminated with hazardous substances or hazardous waste, and any property which may be adversely affected by any such site.
(5) 
[2]Private rights-of-way.
[2]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection B(7), regarding façade easements and structures of monetary value, was repealed 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02. This ordinance also provided for the redesignation of Subsection B(8) as Subsection B(5).
C. 
Conservation easement/fee simple application and completion procedures.
(1) 
Submit the acquisition application. The applicant shall submit an application prior to consideration of any request (an "acquisition application").
(a) 
A complete application package ("application package") consists of the following documents:
[1] 
Acquisition application.
[2] 
Application checklist.
[3] 
Executed corporate resolution (if required).
[4] 
Original signed landowner letter of understanding.
[5] 
All supporting documents listed on the application checklist.
(2) 
Application review.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
(a) 
The Township's application review will begin upon receipt of a complete application package to the Open Space Program Administrator.
(b) 
The Open Space Program Administrator will submit the application package to the Open Space Preservation Board at its next regular meeting to begin its review:
[1] 
Verify that the tract is designated for open space uses in a resource, recreation, or land use plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors and currently in effect.
[2] 
Rank the tract in accordance with the land rating system developed for this purpose.
[3] 
Complete a financial evaluation by using the Open Space Preservation Program Forecasting Model to determine the program's ability to appropriately fund the proposed purchase and maintain all lease payments in perpetuity.
[4] 
The Open Space Preservation Board shall recommend if an offer shall be extended to create a conservation or preservation easement on the property. The recommendation shall include the terms and conditions of an agreement between the Township and the landowner and shall submit recommendations to the Planning Commission.
(c) 
The Planning Commission.
[1] 
The Planning Commission shall receive and review recommendations from the Open Space Board on which landowners should be extended offers to enter into agreements creating conservation or preservation easements on their property. The Planning Commission may request supporting information from the Open Space Board.
[2] 
After reviewing and considering the recommendation from the Open Space Board, the Planning Commission shall make its own recommendations directly to the Board of Supervisors on which landowners should be extended offers to enter into agreements.
(d) 
The Board of Supervisors.
[1] 
After receiving recommendations from both the Open Space Board and the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors shall take the following actions:
[a] 
Will notify the applicant, in writing, of any deficiencies and if funding is available.
[b] 
At its discretion, conduct inspections to determine their suitability for the proposed public benefit.
(e) 
The Township shall require that an appraised value of the easement or fee simple acquisitions be determined for each transaction. The appraisers shall be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, as a certified general appraiser having met all the qualifications as required by Act 1990-98 of July 10, 1990, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or its equivalent. The selected appraisers will not have a property interest or personal or financial interest in the selected parcel.
[1] 
For the purposes of defined "appraised value:" Appraised value shall be determined based on the average of two appraisals, one paid for by the property owner, and one paid for by the Township. If the higher appraisal is less than 10% greater than the lower appraisal, then the appraised value shall be the average of the two. If the higher appraisal is more than 10% greater than the lower appraisal, a third appraisal shall be sought from an appraiser at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. The appraised value then would be the average of the two closest appraisals.
[2] 
All appraisals shall meet the requirements set by the Board of Supervisors by resolution.
(3) 
Land survey. The Township shall require that a survey be completed for each acquisition application. A professional land surveyor registered in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall perform a survey of the proposed application land and any trail features on the property.
(a) 
The survey performed shall be completed to a standard that is suitable for recording and shall be recorded with the legal interest acquired (fee simple/deed or conservation easement). The survey process shall be as follows:
[1] 
Survey. A minimum of three bids will be submitted to the Township upon the Township giving public notice of request for bids.
[2] 
The Township will submit to the applicant a copy of the bids received.
[3] 
The Township and the applicant shall give notice to the surveyor if such are not already available to visibly mark the boundary monuments in the field, provide the boundary information in an electronic format that can be converted for use with Arc View® Geographic Information System Software.
[4] 
The surveyor will provide the Township with a copy of the Arc View® files delineating the property/easement boundaries and all public access areas within the property/easement.
[5] 
The surveyor will provide the Township with three copies of the survey map in a paper format acceptable to the Township Engineer.
(4) 
Complete and submit baseline documentation report. The baseline documentation report checklist is provided in the application package and shall be submitted with the required information at the time of application by the applicant. A checklist is included to ensure the applicant completes a minimum baseline documentation report that meets the Township's requirements.
(5) 
(Reserved)[3]
[3]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection C(5), Reimbursement for costs of application process, was repealed 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02.
(6) 
Agreement of sale. The Township shall submit the agreement of sale to the applicant for approval prior to execution. The applicant or its agent is responsible to review the document to determine its consistency with the acquisition application.
(7) 
Settlement. Scheduling of the acquisition settlement is the sole responsibility of the applicant.
(8) 
Post acquisition settlement. The Township shall record the applicable deed transfer documents or conservation easements and the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions at the Centre County Recorder of Deeds, within 30 days of the acquisition settlement. Furthermore, the Township shall provide a certified copy to the applicant within 10 days of receipt of the documents from the Centre County Recorder of Deeds evidencing that the documents have been recorded.
(a) 
For conservation easements, a United States Federal 1099-S verification form shall be submitted to the Township within 30 days of settlement or before the end of the calendar year within which the transaction was completed.
(9) 
Requests for funds from the Township. Requests for the release of Township funds cannot be processed until all required information has been received, reviewed and accepted. The Township reserves the right to request further documentation for any reason prior to processing the final funding request. Upon approval of a reimbursement request, the Township will initiate a request for payment of the funds. The funds will be made available to the applicant as soon as possible, usually less than 45 days after the payment request has been initiated.
(10) 
Public benefit accountability. The OSPB or its designee shall provide an annual update, in writing, to the Board of Supervisors on the status of public benefit, including public access and use that has occurred on the parcel over the past year.
D. 
Declaration of covenant, conditions and deed restrictions, conservation easement and other documentation requirements.
(1) 
Declaration of covenant form. In cases of fee simple acquisitions, at the time the deed is recorded at the Centre County Recorder of Deeds, the Township shall record a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions ("declaration"). The declaration shall be in a form approved by resolution of the Township. The Board of Supervisors may modify the form of the declaration by resolution, upon published notice of its intent to modify the form of the declaration and receipt of the recommendation of the OSPB on the proposed modification, including public access requirements if so requested by the applicant.
(2) 
Conservation easement form. When acquiring a conservation easement, the form of the conservation easement shall be in the form approved by resolution of the Township. The Board of Supervisors may modify the form of the conservation easement, upon published notice of its intent to modify the form and receipt of the recommendation of the OSPB on the proposed modification, including public access requirements if so requested by the applicant.
(3) 
(Reserved)[4]
[4]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection D(3), General appraisal requirements, was repealed 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02.
(4) 
Title insurance and fee reimbursement. Prior to the Township acquiring any interests under the acquisition process, the applicant must obtain title insurance satisfactory to the Township Solicitor. The Township will reimburse up to 100% of the cost of title insurance policy or title binder for each successful acquisition application.
(5) 
Survey fee reimbursement. The Township will reimburse 50% of the cost of one survey.
[Added 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02[5]]
[5]
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also repealed former Subsection E, Eligible costs.
(6) 
Baseline documentation fee reimbursement. The Township will reimburse 50% of costs associated with the compilation and reproduction of the documentation which the Township requires in support of a complete acquisition application.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former § 163-13, Statement of voluntary participation, added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4, and § 163-14, Review and selection process, added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4, were repealed 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4; amended 11-20-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-02]
A. 
Maximum base price of acquisition.
(1) 
The direct financial cost to purchase an interest in or the property in the following amounts:
(a) 
Eligible acquisition applications are limited to maximum base purchase price for fee simple acquisitions not to exceed $4,000 per acre, or the appraised value, whichever is less.
(b) 
Annual easement and acquisition purchase threshold.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
A. 
Options. Payment for a conservation easement or fee simple acquisition may be made in a lump sum cash purchase, installment purchase or in another manner of payment consistent with applicable law.
B. 
When installment purchases are made, the following procedure will apply:
(1) 
Installment sales with a payment period of five years or less. Installment sales in which the final payment for the easement purchase is to be made no longer than five years from the date of contract of sale is fully executed are subject to the following requirements:
(a) 
Purchases may be made in the name of the Township, the Township and the commonwealth, or the Township, commonwealth and a conservation organization or jointly by the commonwealth, Centre County and a conservation organization.
(b) 
The Township will provide the written agreement of sale for purchases to the applicant.
(c) 
The installment payment terms, including the dates of payments, payment amounts and interest rate on the outstanding balance shall be negotiated between the applicant and the Township.
(d) 
The interest rate to be paid on the outstanding balance shall be established by the Township and shall be stated in the agreement of sale. The Township is authorized to pay interest on the declining unpaid principal balance at the legal rate of interest consistent with prevailing market conditions at the time of execution of the installment contract, or such lesser amount as may be negotiated.
(2) 
Installment sales with a payment period of more than five years. Installment sales, other than those installment sales described in Subsection B(1)(a), in which the final payment for the easement purchase is to be made more than five years from the date the contract of sale is fully executed are subject to the following provisions:
(a) 
Purchases may be made in the name of the Township, the Township and the commonwealth, or the Township, commonwealth and Centre County or a conservation organization or jointly by the commonwealth, Centre County and the Township and a conservation organization.
(b) 
The Township will provide the written agreement of sale for purchases to the applicant.
(c) 
The installment payment terms, including the dates of payments, payment amounts and interest rate on the outstanding balance shall be negotiated between the landowner and the Township.
(d) 
The interest rate to be paid on the outstanding balance shall be established by the Township, and shall be stated in the agreement of sale. (This amount shall not exceed the adjustment of term rate as listed in § 163-7, Lease, Appendix C, § 4.03(b), Paragraph 2).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix C is on file at the Township offices
(e) 
The Township's share of the easement purchase price, exclusive of interest, shall be transferred for deposit into an irrevocable escrow account or deposit in another manner provided by law. From such account payments will be made during the term, once each fiscal year.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
A. 
The OSPB or its designated appointee shall inspect all restricted land within the Township at least annually to determine compliance with the applicable deed of easement. The first inspection shall be completed within one year of the date of sale and shall be included in the annual report of the OSPB following that one-year period.
B. 
Written notice of an inspection to be conducted shall be mailed, by certified mail, to the owner at least 30 days prior to the inspection.
C. 
Inspections shall be conducted between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on a date and time that is not a legal holiday recognized by the commonwealth, agreeable to the Township and the landowner.
D. 
Within 30 days of conducting an inspection, the OSPB or its designee shall prepare a written inspection report setting forth the following information:
(1) 
The identification of the land inspected.
(2) 
The name of the owner of the land at the time the easement was originally acquired and the name of the current owner of the land inspected.
(3) 
A description of modifications in the number, type, location or use of any structures on the land since the date of the filing of the deed of easement.
(4) 
A description of the deviations from the conservation plan observed on the restricted land.
(5) 
A statement of whether the provisions of the deed of easement are being observed.
(6) 
A statement indicating whether a structure permitted under the easement has been constructed on the restricted land and, if such a structure has been constructed, the month and year construction was completed and a description of the structure and its location on the land.
E. 
A copy of the inspection report shall be mailed, by certified mail, to be owner within five days of issuance.
F. 
The Township may inspect the restricted land, jointly or severally, without prior notice if they have reasonable cause to believe that any provision of the easement has been or is being violated.
G. 
Section § 163-6B and C, applying to enforcement of lease agreements, is applicable to any property interests acquired under §§ 163-12 through 163-20.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
The OSPB or its designee shall file the following with the Board of Supervisors by July 1 of each year:
A. 
A copy of the inspection reports for inspections conducted during the prior year.
B. 
An annual report which summarized the number of inspections, violations detected, violations resolved and the circumstances surrounding unresolved violations.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
If an individual, organization or agency having fee simple ownership of a tract of land on which the Township has acquired a conservation easement intends to transfer ownership of that land, the landowner shall submit to the Township a written request for approval of that transfer along with a copy of the proposed deed of transfer at least 60 days before the proposed date of transfer. The landowner shall not execute the transfer until the Township has provided written approval of the request under the following conditions:
A. 
No changes in the conservation easement held by the Township or in the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions agreed to by the landowner and the Township at the time of creation of the conservation easement may be made without the approval of the Township. These documents shall be made a part of the transfer of ownership agreement;
B. 
Availability of public access shall remain the same or may be increased; and
C. 
The Township shall have no role in negotiating sale prices between the landowner and the prospective landowner.
[Added 6-12-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-4]
The Board shall recognize the obligations of the Township for resale of fee simple interests in open space acquired pursuant to Act 153[1] and this chapter, and the Board shall recognize compliance with all other mandatory provisions of the Act.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 32 P.S. § 5001 et seq.