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Changes in Pennsylvania effective today, 10-23-14 for agricultural buildings

jar546

Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
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Oct 16, 2009
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Palm Beach County Florida
Today, October 22nd, a new amendment to the Uniform Construction Code has taken effect in Pennsylvania, as the result of HB1440 becoming law upon Governor Corbett’s signing. A copy of HB1440 is attached for your review.



This amendment specifically adds to the definition of an agricultural building the words “a structure used to grow agricultural or horticultural products”.



In PABCO’s opinion, this amendment does not likely change the day to day interpretation or application of the UCC by the overwhelming majority of Building Code Officials. In our experience, BCOs throughout the Commonwealth have typically been granting “agricultural building exclusions” for any building or structure used for agricultural or horticultural purposes, as long as it does not fall within the “reasons or conditions” in the Act for not granting the exclusion.



The reasons or conditions for not granting the agricultural building exclusion are:



The term shall not include habitable space or spaces in which agricultural products are processed, treated or packaged and shall not be construed to mean a place of occupancy by the general public.



The primary intention of the sponsors of the bill was to clarify what some legislators had reported in their districts and that was that BCOs were denying agricultural building exclusion requests for “high tunnels” or “high hoops” used to grow agricultural or horticultural products. These are very common throughout the state for growing vegetables, plants and nursery stock.



PABCO testified that if these structures were truly being used for the purposes of growing agricultural and horticultural products, they should be excluded from compliance with the Uniform Construction Code, as long as they were not “knocked out” of the exclusion because of activities occurring which would negate the exclusion. The most common of these would be if the structures were open to the general public for retail sales.



To qualify for an agricultural building exclusion, the exclusion is based solely on the intended use of the building or structure. Size, height, square footage, presence of electrical service, plumbing or mechanical equipment are irrelevant in deciding whether the building or structure qualifies for the exclusion from the UCC. Intended use is the sole determination.



With that being said, buildings or structures excluded under the Uniform Construction Code are not excluded from compliance with local zoning and land development ordinances, storm water ordinances and the like.



The most basic scenario that we want to present for your consideration is:



A green house, high tunnel or high hoop used for growing vegetables, plants or nursery stock and open to the general public for retail sales – NOT EXCLUDED.



A green house, high tunnel or high hoop used for growing vegetables, plants or nursery stock and NOT open to the general public for retail sales – EXCLUDED



This communication is advisory in nature only, and as always, each Building Code Official is responsible for interpreting and properly applying the Uniform Construction Code in your jurisdiction.
 
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