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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Bill Exempting High Tunnels from the Stormwater Management Clears Senate, on to Governor

Monday, April 2, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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High TunnelsHARRISBURG – A bill exempting high tunnels from the requirements of the Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Act (SMA) passed the Senate on March 26 without change and now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.

This popped up as problem when several years ago local governments in Lancaster County began requiring expensive engineering and hydrologic studies before they would allow high tunnels to be constructed on farms. These studies often ran into the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, making the high tunnels too expensive to build.

Representative David Zimmerman (R- Lancaster County) introduced a bill last session to exempt high tunnels from the requirement of the SMA. The bill died at the end of the last legislative session in the Senate just before the end of the year.

This session, Rep. Zimmerman reintroduced the bill with some modifications to specify set-back distances from streams and property lines to overcome some of the concerns raised in the Senate last session. The bill passed the Senate unanimously this time.

The bill exempts high tunnels from the SMA under the following conditions:

·   The coverage of the high tunnels and other impervious structures do not comprise more than 25% of the owner’s contiguous land area on which the high tunnels are located; and

·   One of the following conditions are met:

  • The high tunnel is located at least 100 feet from any perennial stream or watercourse, public road or neighboring property line; or
  • The high tunnel is located at least 35 feet from any perennial stream or watercourse, public road or neighboring property line and located on land with a slope not greater than 7%; or
  • The high tunnel is supported with a buffer or diversion system that does not directly drain into a stream or other watercourse by managing storm water runoff in a manner consistent with requirements of the SMA.

If you have high tunnels that meet the requirements outlined in the bill and are having problems with your local government and their enforcement of the Stormwater Management Act, download a copy of this legislation by clicking here and show it to your local officials. If, after showing your local officials the legislation, you are still having problems, call or email Gregg Robertson at 717.2348.3022.

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