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Bulk Transmission Pre-Existing Land Use Assessment Overview (13)

A bulk transmission developer must consider the pre-existing land uses of the proposed project site. Pre-existing land uses at and surrounding the site are critical considerations in the early planning stages of the project. Federal and state law may prohibit interference with certain pre-existing land uses. Bulk transmission developers should consider project impacts on farmland, livestock, nearby airports, military lands, navigable waters, and whether the project will raise any state land issues.

Pre-Existing Land Use Assessment Overview Process

13.1 – Review Project Location

The developer must review the project location to determine if there are pre-existing uses of the land that may be impacted as a result of the project.

13.2 to 13.3 – Will the Project Affect Farmland or Livestock?

The developer should consider whether the project would impact farmland or livestock. The United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies are tasked with ensuring that the actions of the federal government do not cause U.S. farmland to be irreversibly converted to non-agricultural uses. The Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) protects agriculturally productive lands from conversion to other land uses, and it could impede a developer's ability to continue with a project. Impacts on farmland or livestock can occur through displacing agriculturally productive lands or through emissions that impact the productivity of agricultural lands.

The FPPA requires federal agencies carrying out federal programs to identify and take into account any adverse effects on farmland created by those programs. If the federal project will irreversibly convert farmland to a non-agricultural use, the developer should consider mitigation efforts and alternative project sites. For more information, see:

Farmland Evaluation:

13.4 to 13.5 – Will the Project Be On or Adjacent to Military Lands?

The developer should consider whether the project will be located on or adjacent to military lands or installations. The Sikes Act authorizes the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to carry out a program for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on military installations. The developer should consult the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) if the proposed project will be on military land.

In addition, the military engages local governments and landowners for areas adjacent to military based to develop land use restrictions suitable to the purposes of the military installation. For projects, adjacent to military land, the developer should consult the relevant DOD Joint Land Use Study, local land use plans, and private land use agreements. For more information, see:

Military Land Evaluation:

13.6 to 13.7 – Will the Project Require the Construction of a Bridge Over Navigable Waters?

The developer should consider whether the project would require the construction of a bridge over navigable waters. Federal law protects navigable waters from any construction that could potentially impede the navigability of the channel. Construction or modification of a bridge across a navigable waterway of the United States requires a Bridge Permit from the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG’s bridge permitting authority can be found in Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 USC 401), The Bridge Act of 1906 (33 U.S.C. 491 - 498), and The General Bridge Act of 1946 (33 U.S.C. 525 - 533). Today, the General Bridge Act of 1946 is cited as the authority for Bridge Permits in most cases. For more information, see:

Bridge Permit:

13.8 to 13.9 – Will the Project Have a Substantial Aeronautical Impact?

The developer must consider any impact the project may have to nearby airports. Developers should consult with local airports to determine whether the project will have any direct or indirect effects on nearby flyways.

Generally, construction or alteration projects that include objects 200 feet above ground level (or higher) require developers to submit notice of the project to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA will evaluate the project based on obstruction standards and other factors in order to determine whether the construction or alteration will have a substantial aeronautical impact. Even where the FAA determines that there is no hazard to air navigation, they may include conditional provisions, limitations necessary to minimize potential problems, lighting/marking recommendations, and/or supplemental notice requirements.

For a full description of the relevant considerations and applicable processes, see Aeronatucial Considerations:

13.10 to 13.11 – Will the Project Obstruct or Alter Navigable Waters of the U.S.?

The developer should consider whether the proposed project will obstruct or alter navigable waters of the U.S. Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 requires a developer to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for any project that obstructs or alters any navigable water of the United States, including any work or structures in, over, or under or affecting the course, location, or condition of navigable waters. Navigable waters of the United States are “those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce.” For more information, see:

Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 Permit:

13.12 to 13.13 – Will the Project Impact State Coastal Lands?

A developer may need coastal zone approval for projects that have the potential to impact state coastal zones from states that have programs that comply with the federal Coastal Zone Management Program.

The federal Coastal Zone Management Program established by the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 is a voluntary state-federal partnership, which encourages states to adopt their own management programs in order to meet the federal goals of protection, restoration, and appropriate development of coastal zone resources. 15 CFR Part 930, Subpart D; 16 U.S.C. § 1456(c)(3)(A). The CZMA applies to projects located within the state’s coastal areas and to projects located outside of the state’s coastal areas that are reasonably likely to affect the state’s coastal resources or coastal land and water uses. See 15 CFR § 930.11. The CZMA defines “coastal zone” as “the coastal waters (including the lands therein and thereunder) and the adjacent shorelands (including the waters therein and thereunder), strongly influenced by each other and in proximity to the shorelines of the several coastal states, and includes islands, transitional and intertidal areas, salt marshes, wetlands, and beaches. The zone extends, in Great Lakes waters, to the international boundary between the United States and Canada and, in other areas, seaward to the outer limit of State title and ownership[.]” 16 U.S.C. § 1453(1).

A state may also require additional state coastal land approvals.


In Louisiana, a bulk transmission developer may need a Coastal Use Permit from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources or appropriate local authority before beginning construction of a project that falls within a coastal zone Louisiana Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Use Permit Webpage. For more information, see:

Coastal Use Permit:


Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding coastal land protections for bulk transmission development in any other state.

13.14 to 13.15 – Will the Project Impact State Wetlands?

A developer may need to obtain approval from the state for projects that impact freshwater, tidal, or other wetlands in the state.

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding wetland protections for bulk transmission development.

13.16 to 13.18 – Will the Project Impact Raise Any Additional Pre-existing State Land Use Issues?

The developer should consider additional pre-existing stat land use issues. A state may require additional state land use approvals regarding a number of pre-existing land features. For example, a state may require approval for projects that may impact state floodplains, dunes, conservation districts, shorelines, and river corridors.

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding pre-existing land use approvals for bulk transmission development.