Guidelines & Resources for FCC Applicants

Water Tower, Kent Island, Queen Anne's Co. Water Tower, Kent Island, Queen Anne's Co.

Section 106 Submittals Revised November 2023

Introduction and the FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreements

Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (Section 106) and its implementing regulations 36 CFR Part 800, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) must consider the effects of an activity under its jurisdiction, such as antenna collocation and tower construction, on historic properties and take appropriate measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. While the FCC authorizes its applicants to initiate Section 106 consultation, compile information, conduct necessary studies, and assess effects on historic properties, the FCC remains legally responsible for complying with Section 106 for the activities under its jurisdiction.

The FCC executed two Nationwide Programmatic Agreements (NPAs), one for New Tower construction and one for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas on existing structures, which streamline the Section 106 review process for specified communications facilities. The procedures stipulated in these NPAs exclude certain actions from review and tailor the Section 106 review process for the undertakings covered by the agreements. Specified measures include instituting the use of standard submittal forms, procedures for identifying historic properties within an undertaking's Area of Potential Effect (APE), determining the effects of an undertaking on historic properties, and consulting with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), Indian tribes, and other consulting parties. The FCC further streamlined the Section 106 review process in 2008 with the establishment of their online Section 106 consultation platform FCC E-106. In addition, the FCC amended the collocation NPA in 2016 and 2020, to address new technologies with limited potential to affect historic properties.

FCC applicants and their consultants should carefully read the New Tower NPA and the Collocation NPA, as amended, and become familiar with the relevant responsibilities and review processes as described in these agreements. The FCC has delegated its applicants to initiate aspects of the Section 106 consultation and encourages applicants to utilize qualified historic preservation professionals to complete the Section 106 consultation for their FCC licensed projects.

The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) serves as Maryland's State Historic Preservation Office (MD SHPO) and plays a key role in the Section 106 process defined in 36 CFR Part 800 and the FCC NPAs. MHT prepared this guidance to assist the FCC's applicants and their consultants with the Section 106 consultation process under the two NPAs for undertakings in Maryland. This webpage includes sources of additional information to facilitate the preparation of submittals for MHT review and the resulting consultation process. The guidance is intended to be used in conjunction with the NPAs and assumes the reader’s familiarity with these agreement documents.

Submission Packet in the FCC E-106 System

The NPAs require applicants to prepare a Submission Packet, using FCC Form 620 (new tower) or FCC Form 621 (collocation), with accompanying required attachments, for each undertaking and submit it to the MD SHPO and any consulting parties for review. MHT participates in the FCC E-106 system by reviewing submittals and providing its comments and concurrence on FCC undertakings solely through the FCC E-106 system.

Area of Potential Effects

The NPAs establish a presumed Area of Potential Effects (APE) for direct effects and the APE for visual effects for undertakings covered by the agreements, as follows:

  1. The APE for direct effects is the area of potential ground disturbance and any property that will be physically altered or destroyed by the undertaking, including any proposed access roads, support facilities and structures, and utility connections.
  2. The APE for visual effects is the geographic area in which the undertaking has the potential to introduce visual elements that diminish or alter the setting — where the setting is a character defining feature of a historic property. The NPA defines the following presumed APE for visual effects.
    • For towers/collocations 200 feet or less in overall height – within ½ mile from the tower/collocations site;
    • For towers/collocations more than 200 but less than 400 feet in overall height – within ¾ mile from the tower/collocation site;
    • For towers/collocations more than 400 feet in overall height – within 1 ½ miles from the tower/collocation site.
  3. The NPAs allow the applicant and the SHPO to mutually agree to an alternate APE for visual effects based on the given topographic, visual, or other property specific considerations. Please note that MHT has not established a predetermined acceptable size for alternate APEs, as the size of the APE for visual effects will depend on the design of the collocation or small cell, its height and location, and the topography and landscape of the area surrounding the project site. MHT appreciates early coordination by email to mutually agree to a reduced APE for visual effects. For collocation and small cell projects, MHT generally accepts a reduced size APE no smaller than 750 feet from the project site, where appropriate. When an applicant uses a reduced APE for visual effects, the attachments to the FCC form in FCC E-106 should contain a clear description, justification, and mapping for the reduced visual APE.

Identification of Historic Properties

The NPAs define the procedures for applicants to identify historic properties within an undertaking's APE for visual and direct effects. These procedures primarily involve the review of existing state SHPO records to identify historic properties. As specified in the NPAs, field survey to identify historic properties is only necessary to identify resources within the APE for direct effects.

The NPAs limit identification of historic properties in the APE for visual effects to the results of a file search, and define the following types of known resources that shall be treated as historic properties in the assessment of effect:

  1. Properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register);
  2. Properties formally determined eligible for National Register listing by the Keeper of the National Register;
  3. Properties the MD SHPO certifies are in the process of being nominated to the National Register;
  4. Properties previously determined eligible for National Register listing as part of a consensus determination of eligibility between the MD SHPO and a federal agency;
  5. Properties listed in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) that the MD SHPO has previously evaluated and determined to be eligible for the National Register. In Maryland, these properties encompass those resources that the MD SHPO considers eligible for the National Register as documented in its Determination of Eligibility (DOE) database and those on which MHT holds a preservation easement.

As MD SHPO, MHT maintains its cultural resources files (Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, National Register, MHT Easements, Determinations of Eligibility, and Archaeology Site Files) through its online Medusa, Maryland's Cultural Resource Information System. The information on architectural resources is accessible to the public. User accounts are required for access to sensitive archaeological site data and are only available to qualified professionals. Medusa has additional layers that may assist with Section 106 consultation including parcel data from Maryland SDAT, NPS Certified Local Historic Districts, Maryland Certified Heritage Areas. Applicants should primarily complete their identification of historic properties as specified in the NPAs using Medusa. MHT requests that applicants reference the MIHP numbers for all historic properties in the APE, including those listed on the National Register, in their Submission Packet. MHT encourages applicants to review local government records that are publicly available to identify locally designated historic properties and local districts as well.

Historic Structures in the APE for Direct Effects

The NPAs clearly state that historic properties shall be identified in the APE for direct effects. They do not limit identification of above-ground historic properties in the APE for Direct Effects to a files search. Buildings or structures over 50 years in age in the APE for Direct Effects should be evaluated for their National Register eligibility in an attachment to the FCC Form 620/621 in FCC E-106. This evaluation narrative may be in a memo or short document. MIHP Forms and Determination of Eligibility Forms are not generally completed for FCC undertaking unless specifically requested by MHT after initial review of the Submission Packet/filing in FCC E-106. MHT expects that qualified professionals will apply the National Register criteria and critically evaluate the resource for its National Register eligibility in the attachment.

In lieu of formal National Register evaluation, the applicant may treat a resource over 50 years old as potentially eligible for the National Register and assess the effect of the undertaking on this property.

Archaeological Resources in the APE for Direct Effects

The NPAs include specific provisions for making a reasonable and good faith effort to identify and evaluate archaeological properties within an undertaking’s APE for direct effects. The agreements clearly identify situations where field survey is not necessary. For undertakings located in Maryland, it is MHT's position that archaeological field survey for new towers is generally not warranted, unless the APE for direct effects includes a previously inventoried archaeological site or has a high potential for containing National Register eligible archaeological resources based on its historical association or environmental conditions.

The NPA requires applicants to include a "report" in its Submission Packet that substantiates its finding that no archaeological survey is necessary or presents the results of any field survey. For Maryland submittals, the "report" should consist of a short and concise statement of why the project area has no archaeological potential or a brief description of the negative results of any field survey performed. MHT considers these field surveys to constitute field checks as opposed to Phase I archaeological surveys, thus production of a full archaeology report is not required and MHT does not file these "reports" in its Library records.

However, if a field survey identifies an archaeological site within the APE for direct effects, MHT requests the applicant to prepare a full Phase I archaeological report in accordance with MHT's Standards and Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations in Maryland (Shaffer and Cole 1994). This report should be attached to the Form 620/621 filing in FCC E-106 for MHT review. Upon completion of review, MHT requests the required hard copies of this report as detailed in the Standards and Guidelines.

MHT (MD SHPO) Review and Comment on FCC E-106

MHT (MD SHPO) completes its review and comment on FCC undertakings through the FCC's E-106 system and FCC applicants must submit completed Submission Packets (Form 620/621 and Attachments) on this platform. MHT requests that applicants do not provide us with a hard copy or emailed PDF copy of the submission made through FCC E-106.

The Submission Packet (Form 620/621 and Attachments) filed in FCC E-106 must contain accurate and complete information. MHT asks the applicant to carefully follow the instructions found for Forms 620 and 620 when completing the Submission Packet. MHT recommends that the applicant initiate consultation with the appropriate local government and any consulting parties prior to filing the Submission Packet. The applicant should include copies of any written comments received from the local government or consulting parties in its FCC E-106 submittal or upload these comments to the filing in FCC E-106 when received.

MHT has 30 calendar days from the FCC E-106 system notification of a new submission to review the materials and respond. MHT provides its official comments, concurrence, or requests for additional information through the FCC E-106 system. Based on the review of the materials provided in the Submission Packet, and in accordance with the procedures of the NPA, MHT will respond in one of the following ways:

  • Concur with the applicant's determination of no historic properties present, no historic properties affected, or no adverse effect on historic properties. This concludes the Section 106 consultation for the undertaking.
  • Request additional information. If MHT determines that the applicant's Submission Packet is incomplete or needs further details to complete an informed review of the undertaking, MHT will provide comments in FCC E-106 to describe the information requested. The applicant is responsible for addressing the request and providing the needed information via upload and comments to the Submission Packet/filing in FCC E-106.
  • If MHT disagrees with an applicant's effect determination, we will submit a Request for Additional Information to allow the applicant time to consider our comments. MHT will provide comments in FCC E-106 concisely describing the historic properties that may be affected and explaining how the criteria of adverse effect would apply to those properties. If the applicant can address MHT’s comments, they should update the Submission Packet filing in FCC E-106 with a revised finding of effect. In the case of unresolved disagreements with MHT, the applicant must follow additional procedures of the NPA to conclude the Section 106 process.
  • Concur with the applicant's determination of adverse effect on historic properties. MHT will work with the applicant to develop measures that would avoid the adverse effect and enable a conditional no adverse effect determination. If avoidance is not feasible, MHT will consult with the applicant in accordance with the procedures in the NPA to resolve the adverse effect and execute a Memorandum of Agreement.
  • MHT will work with the applicant to satisfactorily resolve any disagreements that arise during consultation. If disputes are not resolved, the applicant may at any time choose to refer the matter to the FCC and proceed through the relevant procedures of the NPA to complete the Section 106 process.

If MHT does not provide notice through FCC E-106 that it agrees or disagrees with the applicant's determination of no historic properties affected/no adverse effect or request additional information within 30 calendar days of receiving a completed Submission Packet, then the applicant may proceed in accordance with the NPAs and FCC E-106 process.

Please note: Applicants for FCC approved undertakings in Maryland should solely utilize the FCC E-106 system for all Section 106 consultation, not MHT's e106 system. MHT will enter FCC projects into its system database allowing applicants to search for MHT review status at our online Search the Compliance Log, by putting the FCC filing # into the Project Number field.

Useful Resources

FCC: The FCC provides extensive resources and training for applicants through the following links:

Maryland Historical Trust MHT/MD SHPO: For additional information about MHT's programs and services, visit the MHT website at To complete file research online, visit Medusa at To request a Medusa user account, apply on the MHT website at

Section 106 Process: To learn more about the Section 106 consultation process, visit the website of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation at

Indian Tribes: The applicant is responsible for notifying federally recognized Tribes about the proposed tower, using the Tower Construction Notification System (TCNS) established by the FCC at

Public Participation and Consulting Parties: The applicant is responsible for contacting the local government that has primary land use jurisdiction over the site of the planned project and providing written notification of the undertaking, and for notifying the public and potential consulting parties. Consulting parties in Maryland may include county historic preservation offices, Certified Local Governments, historic district commissions, Certified Heritage Areas, and related organizations. Applicants should make a good faith effort to identify consulting parties relevant to each specific undertaking. Applicants should provide the local government and other consulting parties with sufficient information to understand the proposed project and its location, including a location map, site photographs, design plans and information on any historic properties that may be affected.

Further Information: For information or assistance regarding Section 106 submittals for FCC applicants, contact the Project Review and Compliance Unit by email at

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