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Bulk Transmission Land Use Planning Overview (1)

A bulk transmission developer should ensure the project complies with adopted federal, state, and local land use plans and zoning regulations. Federal agencies and states use Land Use Plans (LUPs) to manage lands. LUPs form the basis for every action and approved use of those lands. Federal agencies and states refer to LUPs by different names, but all LUPs serve the same purpose; to dictate what actions can and cannot be taken on the unit of land.


In addition to LUPs, states often have zoning regulations in place that may restrict development activities on a unit of land. Zoning regulations may dictate the type of buildings allowed on a particular unit of land, the location of utility lines, setbacks from streets or other boundaries, and the size and height of a building.

States often delegate land use planning and zoning to local governments. Other states have a cooperative land use planning process between the state and the local governments. Some states have a statewide LUP, other states allow each local government to adopt and implement their own LUP, and some states have a statewide LUP and allow each local government to adopt and implement their own LUP.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers roughly 258 million acres of public lands and 700 million acres of mineral estates in the United States. BLM’s land use planning authority is found in Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and many other public laws. FLPMA requires the BLM to develop and maintain LUPs called Resource Management Plans (RMPs) that cover individual planning units. RMPs outline areas with "limited, restricted or exclusive use, and designations, such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern" where development actions may be prohibited. RMPs also regulate the rate at which resource extraction can occur, realty sales, and cadastral surveys. Bulk transmission projects proposed on BLM managed lands trigger environmental review processes that include, but are not limited to compliance with the BLM's RMP and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Every action and approved use on BLM-managed public lands is formed around the RPMs. The BLM prepares RMPs for areas of public lands, called planning areas, which tend to have similar resource characteristics. Planning emphasizes a collaborative environment in which local, state, and tribal governments, the public, user groups, and industries work with the BLM to identify appropriate multiple uses of the public lands. Plans are periodically revised to reflect changing conditions and resource demands.

United States Forest Service

About 192 million acres of lands are managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS) in accordance with the requirements of the National Forest Management Act of 1976. Similar to the BLM, the USFS is bound by FLPMA's provisions and has developed LUPs called Land Management Plans (LMPs). LMPs are separately prepared and implemented for each National Forest. FLPMA uses the "multiple use" clause to describe allowable activities on USFS managed lands. Development activities, such as bulk transmission projects, are allowed with forest specific provisions to comply with that forest's LMP. The USFS LMPs identify areas administratively open for leasing and whether or not those areas should be leased.


Land Use Planning Overview Process

1.1– Initiate State/Local Land Use Planning

A bulk transmission developer should review the state and/or local LUPs and zoning regulations where the proposed project will be located. The developer should ensure compliance with state and/or local LUPs and regulations. If the proposed project does not comply with a LUP and/or a zoning regulation, the developer may be able to petition for an amendment to the LUP or may be able to obtain a variance to the zoning regulation.


Alabama

Alabama delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-AL-a

Alaska

Alaska land use planning is a cooperative process between the state and local governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-AK-a

Arizona

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding land use planning in Arizona.

Arkansas

Arkansas delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. Ark. Code Ann. §14-56-402 (1957). For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-AR-a

California

California delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-CA-a

Colorado

Colorado delegates land use planning to regional, county, and municipal planning commissions. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-CO-a

Connecticut

Connecticut delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-CT-a

Delaware

Delaware delegates land use planning primarily to local governments with oversight from the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-DE-a

Florida

Florida delegates land use planning to municipalities and counties. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-FL-a

Georgia

Georgia delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments, and regional planning commissions. Georgia – GA. Stat. Ann. §§ 36-66 et seq., County and Municipal Zoning Procedures; GA Const. art. 9 § 2; GA. Stat. Ann. §50-8-32 (2009). For more information see:

Land Use Planning:
1-GA-a

Hawaii

Hawaii delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-HI-a

Idaho

Idaho delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-ID-a

Illinois

Illinois delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-IL-a

Indiana

Indiana delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-IN-a

Iowa

Iowa delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments, with oversight from the Iowa City Development Board. Utility siting is regulated by the Iowa Utilities Board. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-IA-a

Kansas

Kansas delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-KS-a

Kentucky

Kentucky delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments. However, public utilities that operate under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Public Service Commission do not need approval from the local planning commission before locating or relocating any service facilities. KY. Rev. Stat. Ann. §100.324(1) (2002). For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-KY-a

Louisiana

Louisiana delegates land use planning to municipal and parish governments. LA. Stat. Ann. §33:106 (2004). For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-LA-a

Maine

Maine delegates land use planning primarily to local governments and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-ME-a

Maryland

Maryland delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. The Maryland Department of Planning provides review and technical assistance on land use and resource planning for counties and municipalities. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MD-a

Massachusetts

Massachusetts delegates land use planning primarily to local governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MA-a


Michigan

Michigan delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MI-a

Minnesota

Minnesota delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MN-a

Mississippi

Mississippi delegates land use planning to local governments. Miss. Code Ann. §17-1-1, et seq. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning
1-MS-a

Missouri

Missouri delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments.. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MO-a

Montana

Montana delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-MT-a

Nebraska

Nebraska land use planning is a function of cooperative local government action. 18 N.R.S. §§ 2101 et seq., Community Development Law; 13 N.R.S. §§ 801 et seq., Interlocal Cooperation Act. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NE-a

Nevada

Nevada delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NV-a

New Hampshire

New Hampshire land use planning is a cooperative process between state agencies, regional commissions, and municipal governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NH-a

New Jersey

New Jersey delegates land use planning to local governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NJ-a


New Mexico

New Mexico delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NM-a

New York

New York land use planning is a function of cooperative local government action. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §§19-o and 119-u; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20-g; N.Y. Twn. L. §284(1); N.Y. Village L. § 7-741(1). For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NY-a

North Carolina

North Carolina delegates land use planning to municipal and local governments. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 160A-381 (1967). For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-NC-a

North Dakota North Dakota delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-ND-a

Ohio

Ohio delegates land use planning primarily to municipal, town, and county governments. However, the Ohio Power Siting Board has authority to regulate “major utility facilities.” Ohio – Ohio Rev. Code §§ 4906.01 et seq., Power Siting. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-OH-a

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, land use planning is delegated to municipal and county governments. OK. Stat. Ann. §11-45-101; OK. Stat. Ann. §19-863.1; OK. Stat. Ann. §19-865.51; OK. Stat. Ann. §19-866.1; OK. Stat. Ann. §19-868.1. For more information see:

Land Use Planning:
1-OK-a

Oregon

Oregon delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-OR-a

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments.. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-PA-a

Rhode Island

Rhode Island delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-RI-a

South Carolina

South Carolina delegates land use planning to municipalities and counties. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-SC-a

South Dakota

South Dakota delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments. However, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SDPUC) may also determine that a permit to construct a transmission facility within a designated area supersedes or preempts any county or municipal land use, zoning, or building rules, regulations, or ordinances upon finding that such rules, or regulation, or ordinance, as applied to the proposed route, are unreasonably restrictive. 49-41B S.D. § 28. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-SD-a

Tennessee

Tennessee delegates land use planning primarily to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-TN-a

Texas

Texas delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-TX-a

Utah

Utah delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-UT-a

Vermont

Vermont land use planning is a cooperative process between the state government, municipal governments, and regional planning commissions. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-VT-a

Virginia

Virginia delegates land use planning to local governments. For more information, see: Land Use Planning:
1-VA-a

Washington

Washington delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-WA-a

West Virginia

West Virginia delegates land use planning to municipal and county governments. For more information, see:

Land Use Planning:
1-WV-a

Wyoming

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding land use planning in Wyoming.

1.2 to 1.3 – Is the Project on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management Land?

The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, as amended by the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (NFMA) requires the United States Forest Service (USFS) to plan, develop, amend and revise Land Management Plans (LMPs) for National Forest System units.

The U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also required to develop, maintain, and revise land use Resource Management Plans (RMPs) by sections 201 and 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA).

In both cases, the proposed use must be consistent with the federal land management agencies LUP (e.g., RMP, LMP). See 36 CFR 219.15(d); 43 CFR 1610.5-3.


1.4 to 1.6 – Is a USFS Plan Revision or a Plan Amendment Required?

If the proposed project is not in compliance with the USFS LMP, he developer may need to petition for a LMP revision or amendment. A revision creates a new plan for an entire plan area while an amendment adds, modifies, or removes one or more plan components. Both revisions and amendments will require some type of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.

The USFS regulations regarding plan revisions can be found at 36 CFR 219.7. The revision process includes public participation, an assessment (as defined by 36 CFR 219.6), development of a revised plan and promulgation of a new plan. In addition, plan revisions always require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Regulations regarding plan amendments can be found at 36 CFR 219.13. Plan amendments may be made at any time and must be based on a preliminary identification of the need to change the plan. The preliminary identification may be based on new information, changed conditions, or changed circumstances. In addition, the USFS is required to provide an opportunity for public participation and to conduct a NEPA analysis. Unlike a plan revision, a plan amendment need not include an EIS. Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Categorical Exclusions (CEs) may suffice, depending on the nature of the amendment. For more information on USFS LMP revisions or amendments, see:

U.S. Forest Service - Land Use Planning:
1-(FD)-c

U.S. Forest Service - Land Use Plan Amendment:
1-(FD)-d

1.7 – Is a BLM Plan Revision or a Plan Amendment Required?

If the proposed project is not in compliance with the BLM LUP, the developer may need to petition for a revision or amendment. BLM LUPs – called Resource Management Plans (RMPs) are changed by either a plan amendment or a plan revision. The revision and development processes are the same, while the amendment process varies, depending on the level of environmental analysis required.

Plan amendments are most often prompted by the need to:

  • Consider a proposal or action that does not conform to the plan;
  • Implement new or revised policy that changes land use plan decisions, such as an approved conservation agreement between the BLM and the USFWS;
  • Respond to new, intensified, or changed uses on public land; and
  • Consider significant new information from resource assessments, monitoring, or scientific studies that change land use plan decisions.

Amending an RMP involves changing one or more of the plan’s components. An amendment is initiated when a proposed action requires a change in terms, conditions and decisions of the approved plan. All amendments to RMPs must comply with NEPA. In some cases, NEPA compliance requires the BLM to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed amendment. If an EIS is required, the amendment process will be identical to the revision process. Unlike plan revisions, however, an amendment to an RMP may not require an EIS where a Categorical Exclusion (CE) applies or where the agency issues a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) after conducting an EA.

RMP revisions involve preparation of a new RMP to replace an existing one. See 43 CFR 1610.5-6. RMP revisions are necessary if monitoring and evaluation findings, new data, new or revised policy, or changes in circumstances indicate that decisions for an entire plan or a major portion of the plan no longer serve as a useful guide for resource management. An EIS is always required for a plan revision.

1.9 to 1.10 – Does the Amendment Require an EA or EIS?

NEPA requires the BLM to prepare an EIS for major federal actions that significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Amendments to an RMP will require an EIS when the environmental effects of the amendment are significant. Context and intensity should be considered when determining the significance of the effects. If the BLM expects the effects of an amendment to be significant, an EIS should be prepared and the amendment process should be identical to the revision process.

An EA is a concise public document that helps the BLM determine whether NEPA compliance requires an EIS or a FONSI. If the BLM believes the amendment will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment it prepares an EA. If the EA determines that the effects are insignificant, the BLM issues a FONSI. A FONSI is a document prepared by a federal agency that briefly explains why an action will not have a significant effect on the human environment. If the EA reveals the effects to be significant, the BLM should begin the amendment and NEPA process anew using an EIS level analysis.

The amendment process will vary depending on whether an EIS or an EA/FONSI is prepared. As stated above, an EIS-level plan amendment process will be identical to the plan revision process. If an EA/FONSI is sufficient for NEPA compliance, the amendment process will require fewer steps, many of which are optional. If an EIS level amendment is required, see

Bureau of Land Management - Land Use Planning:
1-(FD)-a

Otherwise, see

Bureau of Land Management - Land Use Plan Amendment:
1-(FD)-b