- What growth patterns does current zoning dictate?
- What long-term impacts does that growth create such as:
traffic, water quality and quantity, and education?
- What is the maximum potential growth possible under existing
- What are likely impacts on municipal services from that
- Is there an alternative, more favorable future and what
would that look like?
- What can be done now to enhance the pattern of new development?
To help communities consider and address questions such as
these, EOEA sponsored the creation of a set of buildout maps
and analyses for all 351 cities and towns within the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts. The maps and analyses depict currently developed
and protected land within a community and what a community
would look like if remaining undeveloped land was completely
developed in accordance with local zoning.
Map 1 portrays built and
Given the home rule nature of Massachusetts land use governance,
EOEA thought it was critical to provide all 351 cities and
towns this useful tool to explore growth and development planning.
Every community from Boston to Mount Washington has an interest
in its future and is part of the picture of growth statewide.
The buildout project allows every community to see its current
and potential future development, and determine whether or
not it is near buildout or growth pressures are scarce. Another
intent of the project is to inspire communities to work together
across borders to address issues such as shared water supplies
that pay no attention to political borders.
A buildout consists of a series of 4-5 GIS maps that visually
show a community its development patterns and future growth
projections based upon existing local zoning. The maps act
as storyboards that unfold a picture of land use decisions
the community has made to date and what these decisions may
mean for the community in the future. These buildout maps
project the default scenario for growth by graphically illustrating
what the community may look like if all remaining developable
lands were developed, to their maximum potential, based on
existing zoning. Thus, the buildout provides a good basis
for decisions about future development and potential impacts
on the community.
Map 2 portrays developable
lands colored by zoning
EOEA contracted with Massachusetts' 13 regional planning
agencies to utilize a common methodology to develop buildouts
for communities within their jurisdiction. A standard protocol
was followed which involved meetings with local officials
to acquire current information, confirm assumptions and customize
this standard methodology to reflect the details of each individual
community's unique zoning regulations. In fact, some communities
that are closer to buildout chose to conduct redevelopment
analyses in areas of underutilized sites where new development
might be seen as an improvement to the community.
Map 3 portrays developable
and developed lands in two colors
Understanding that planning decisions are not just for a
select number of planning professionals or local officials,
EOEA presented these buildout projects to the public in a
variety of venues.
- As the projects were completed, EOEA staff presented buildout
analyses to the City Council and Board of Selectmen in every
community in the form of a customized slide presentation.
- EOEA held 20 Summits across the state to introduce larger
forums of 100 plus attendees from 12-15 communities, to
generate discussion about the buildouts and explore the
community characteristics that people wished to preserve
- EOEA held 5 regional SuperSummits of up to 300 people
from up to 52 communities to explore buildout implications
across municipal borders. For these events EOEA's MassGIS
team integrated completed buildout projects into a single
uniform palette to enable regional analysis of buildout
Builtout Summit held in
Melrose, MA on March 3, 2000
The Regional Resource Pages and Create
your own Regional Buildout Analysis pages are
For more information on the buildout map and analysis project
please read our full length publication,
The Buildout Book: Where Do You Want to be at Buildout?,
available to either read or print from the web. Additionally,
each community's buildout map series and analysis are also
available in both PDF and ArcView format.