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Preserving and Enhancing Communities

A Guide for Citizens, Planners, and Policymakers

edited by Elisabeth M. Hamin, Priscilla Geigis, and Linda Silka

Publication Year: 2007

This book starts from the premise that each community chooses its future every day, through the incremental decisions made by planning and zoning boards and other citizen volunteers, as well as professional staff. The challenge is to ensure that these decisions support the preservation of what is special about the community, while still fostering necessary and appropriate growth. In this volume, twenty-nine experts from a variety of fields describe in very practical terms the "community preservation" approach to these issues. As opposed to the top-down regulatory mechanisms that are sometimes used to manage growth, the contributors favor a more flexible, locally based approach that has proven successful in Massachusetts and elsewhere. They show how residents can be empowered to become involved in local decision-making, building coalitions and expressing their views on a wide range of issues, such as zoning, water and land protection, transportation, historic preservation, economic diversity, affordable housing, and reuse of brown-fields. When done properly, development can enhance the sense of place and provide needed homes and jobs. Done improperly, it can generate sprawl and a multitude of problems. Preserving and Enhancing Communities will be particularly useful to members of planning and other regulatory boards, as well as students of community planning. The book covers not just typical ways of doing things, but also the full spectrum of innovative and emerging practices. Each chapter includes illustrations and case studies, some from Massachusetts and many from other states. The volume concludes with a set of indicators that communities can use to track their progress in community preservation and enhancement.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv


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pp. v

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi

First, the editors would like to thank all the contributors to this book who patiently responded to our suggestions and developed what we humbly consider truly valuable contributions to better communities. The principles and policies behind Community Preservation were developed by Robert Durand while he was Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and we salute his vision and leadership.

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Introduction: Preserving and Enhancing Communities

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pp. 1-6

Guiding the growth and development of our communities in the twenty-first century will be complicated, challenging, rewarding, and necessary—just as guiding communities in the last century was. Our communities, the ways they have grown, and the ways they have stayed the same, say something about who we are as a nation. Since the founding of our country, land development has shaped our civilization. We often built communities by clustering houses and institutions of commerce around town and city centers, ...

Section I: Gathering Perspectives and Getting Involved

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Chapter 1 - Getting Involved: Local Residents and the Planning Process

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pp. 9-16

Community preservation and enhancement are based on the idea that it is the residents of a municipality that, through their love of place and willingness to get involved, will decide the future of each town and city. For those who have not been extensively engaged in issues of local land use, the first question likely to arise is: how do I get involved? The second question, given limited time and energy and the desire to see outcomes from one’s participation, is likely to be: how can I make my participation as effective as possible?

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Chapter 2 - Building Consensus: Coalitions for Policy Change

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pp. 17-26

In our democratic society a vital public process is key to accomplishing civic goals that meet the needs of as many constituents as possible, and also the more general environmental, social, economic, and infrastructure needs of a community. While these lofty aims may seem obvious, the reality is that all too often worthy initiatives fail because the public process is not fully understood and engaged from the very beginning through to adoption and implementation of a project.

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Chapter 3 - Diversity: Multiple Cultures Forming One Community

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pp. 27-38

Most of the decisions that are made about community preservation and planning have the potential to affect a community’s diversity (e.g., in income, occupation, class, age, and family composition). Such effects often happen unwittingly because inadequate attention is being paid to the impact that decisions are likely to have on diversity. The goal of this chapter is to help communities bring the focus of diversity to their discussions so the ...

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Chapter 4 - Thinking Like a Developer: Partners, Adversaries, or Competitors?

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pp. 39-52

There is an old saying that “95 percent of all real estate developers give the other 5 percent a bad name.” In this chapter, my task is not to apologize for the excesses of the majority or to comfort the unfairly maligned minority. Rather, my purpose is to explicate the thinking process of developers in order to more fully reveal ...

Section II: Developing a Vision

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Chapter 5 - Comprehensive Planning: Bringing It All Together

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pp. 55-68

The previous chapters have provided an overview of the process of getting involved in local planning as well a lot of substantive knowledge about the typical subjects that cities and towns need to address. In this next section of the book, we move beyond responsive or single-item topics, and discuss how to get municipal policy set up so that the right thing becomes easier and neighbors don’t have to gear up for a fight each time a project is ...

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Chapter 6 - Creative Zoning: Putting the Teeth in Your Planning

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pp. 69-90

For a local planning process to shape a community’s future, it has to be given legal teeth. Citizens and local officials need to ensure that local regulations will reflect the goals of the plan. This, in turn, requires an understanding of zoning. Zoning is the most widely used and far-reaching form of land-use regulation in the United States. Through its zoning code, a community can define ...

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Chapter 7 - Current and Future Land Use: GIS Applied [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 91-98

We all have maps in our heads. Mental maps are the way we organize and envision our communities. But most people have a hard time imagining a landscape that hasn’t yet happened. Decisions affecting the landscape are made piecemeal by both private and public entities, and changes happen incrementally and imperceptibly over time. Because of the private nature of development, most decisions are made with little connection to a shared ...

Section III: Preserving Natural Resources

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Chapter 8 - Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Protection

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pp. 101-120

Historically, biodiversity and ecosystem protection were afterthoughts in local planning (Peck 1998). This is changing with increased public awareness that diverse animal and plant populations and healthy ecosystems are integral to protecting human health and quality of life. This new recognition coincides with and may derive from the evolution of environmental protection from discrete environmental elements ...

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Chapter 9 - Watershed Planning: Securing Our Water Future

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pp. 121-132

Water is the lifeblood of our communities and our environment. It is a fundamental part of our lives, yet it is taken so much for granted that we often don’t recognize its importance and its fragility. We turn on the tap in our homes and water flows. Generally, the water is safe to drink, tastes fine, and it is always there. Many people don’t even know where the water comes from—other than from the tap. Water seems to be always available for ...

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Chapter 10 - Natural Land: Preserving and Funding Open Space

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pp. 133-150

Communities across the country face the challenge of preserving and maintaining open space from the threat of encroaching development. For those local residents and government officials interested in protecting open space, it is essential to integrate its preservation with broader community goals, and to think of open space preservation as a “development” option like other forms of real estate development. Open space provides multiple ...

Section IV: Enhancing Community Strengths

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Chapter 11 - Transportation: Linking Land Use and Mobility

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pp. 153-166

Engineers have traditionally conducted transportation planning. However, like many types of specialty planning, transportation planning is difficult to separate from other planning. Land use, environmental protection, economic development, and even housing issues interrelate with planning for the movement of goods and services.

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Chapter 12 - Housing and Community Preservation: A Home for All

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pp. 167-182

It is becoming increasingly difficult for American families to achieve even the most basic National Housing Goal (declared in 1949) of “a decent home and a suitable living environment” (42 U.S. Code Sec. 1441a). There is simply not enough housing available that is adequate, accessible, and affordable. The solution that communities often turn to when faced with a housing crisis is to build new housing. Certainly new housing is needed, but this single-minded focus on its construction is ...

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Chapter 13 - The New Economy: Thriving amidst Change

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pp. 183-192

Communities increasingly see their economic development goal as one of attracting job-generating industrial development and face the need to develop a plan that will achieve this goal. Communities need to know a great deal to succeed at what has become a formidable task, and many have few resources to hire experienced planners to assist them. This chapter is intended to provide information to communities and others that may be embarking on just such planning. The consulting we have undertaken around the country has shown us ...

Section V: Keeping the Best

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Chapter 14 - Brownfields Redevelopment: Reconnecting Economy, Ecology, and Equity

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pp. 195-206

Brownfields are all around us. They pepper nearly every neighborhood in the United States. They could be the vacant lot on the edge of town. They are the abandoned textile mill near the railroad tracks. They could be the decaying gas station, the old Boys and Girls Club, they may even be the charred remains of a home a block from the elementary school. In fact, a parcel of property need only pose the mere perception of contamination in order to be ...

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Chapter 15 - Adaptive Reuse of Buildings: If It Is Already Built, Will They Come?

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pp. 207-220

New England can lay claim to being the birthplace of American industry, as the many mill buildings that dot the landscape can attest. This industrial legacy is apparent whenever an industrial smokestack or a prominent mill clock comes into view. Most New England mill complexes were extremely sturdy four- and five-story brick structures with high ceilings, enormous windows to let in natural light, and few partitions so that large looms and other ...

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Chapter 16 - Historic Landscape Preservation: Saving Community Character

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pp. 221-230

So laments the popular songwriter from the sixties about the aftermath of insensitive development and poor planning. When my favorite radio station first played this song, I was a child living on an apple orchard soon fated to become a new parking lot for the Fine Arts Center at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. At that age I felt quite powerless over the future land-use change that would take away my childhood stomping ground. To this day ...

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Chapter 17 - Community Preservation: Residents, Municipalities, and the State Collaborating for Smarter Growth

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pp. 231-240

Massachusetts is widely known for its rich history, and also for its beautiful vernacular architecture and traditional town greens. Massachusetts is home to a population of 6 million people who share 5 million acres, with approximately two-thirds of that population inhabiting the eastern third of the state. But Massachusetts, like other states, is changing. Between 1950 and 1990, Massachusetts experienced a population increase of only 28 percent, yet ...

Appendix: Indicators of Community Preservation

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pp. 241-246


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pp. 247-248


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pp. 249-255

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761052
E-ISBN-10: 1613761058
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558495630
Print-ISBN-10: 1558495630

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • City planning.
  • Community development, Urban -- Government policy.
  • Cities and towns -- Growth.
  • Cultural property -- Protection.
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