High Tunnel Bill Advances to Senate
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – A PLNA-backed bill to exempt high tunnels (hoop houses, poly houses) from the Pennsylvania Storm Water Management Act passed the state House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Some townships in Lancaster have begun requiring that high tunnels constructed within their jurisdictions be subject to storm water planning and engineering requirements. These requirements can cost the nursery or farm constructing the high tunnel thousands of dollars.
In response, Rep. David Zimmerman (R – Lancaster) introduced HB 1103 that would exempt high tunnels from the planning and regulatory requirements of the Storm Water Management Act.
High tunnels have been receiving increasing local government scrutiny over the past several years. In 2013, PLNA and other agriculture organizations were successful in encouraging the General Assembly to pass bills exempting high tunnels from real estate taxes.
In 2014, PLNA and its agriculture partners also successfully sought legislation that clarified that high tunnels and other agricultural buildings are not subject to the building requirements of the Uniform Construction Code (UCC).
High tunnels are an inexpensive way of extending the growing season and protecting plants from harsh winter conditions. If they are taxed and subject to expensive regulatory programs, high tunnels will lose their economic advantages.