Preserving and Enhancing Communities: A Guide for Citizens, Planners, and Policymakers

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.