14-0605 v2.1/Byre Knoll/3.0 Technically Not Prime Farmland?


Our project site is a previously developed site. Its dominant soil type has been classified by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service on its Web Soil Survey tool as prime farmland. However, in the Place Petal Handbook, prime farmland is defined as requiring a combination of two items: 1. being defined as prime farmland by USDA NRCS and 2. having been used for irrigated agriculture production. The site was used for agriculture in the not-so-recent past but it was not likely to have been irrigated. (The site gets enough rain without needing irrigation.) The Petal Handbook definition for “prime farmland” seems to imply that this site is not prime farmland even though it has excellent soil for farming. Does the definition hinge on a site having been irrigated? Is or isn’t this site considered to be prime farmland according to the LBC?

The second part of the question is: If it is considered to be prime farmland with regard to Imperative 01, can Exception 101-E9 4/2010 apply to the project? The site is not currently a working farm, but the project is considering working with a local farmer to add an organic vegetable farming function since there is a lack of good local organic food. Would this qualify the project for exception E9? (This question relates to the requirement that “Project teams must document conditions prior to the start of work” since the project site is not currently a working farm.) If so, is there a requirement for what percentage of the project area that needs to be dedicated to agriculture? The project is either pursuing petal certification or net zero energy certification, which means that Imperative 02, Urban Agriculture, would not otherwise apply, however, Imperative 02 lays out the required agricultural area. The project site is likely to have an FAR between 0.05 and 0.09. Does this mean that to qualify for the prime farmland exception in 01 that at least 50% of the site needs to be used for agriculture?

In case it is relevant, the site has been located in a low density (1-2 acre lots), single-family neighborhood development since before 2007. Thanks for your insight into these questions!


Please submit a google map site plan so that we can understand your site, its history and the previous conditions more thoroughly tocertification@livingbuildingchallenge.org. If the site was previously farmed, that does not make it a previously developed site.

Post ID 1995

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