Publication Date



The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.


We would like to thank the following individuals for their support and guidance throughout the course of this project.

Our Client:

Mr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Regional Planning and Economic Development District

Our Professors:

John Mullin, PhD., AICP

Rick Taupier, PhD.

David Winsor, AIA

The Purpose of this report is to evaluate master plans for the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District. This project stems from Massachusetts Executive Order 385, which requires planning agencies to review their plans and policies regarding land use and growth management, and to make them as consistent with one another as possible. The "Critical Assessment of Master Plans" studio team in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts and the Center for Economic Development, has developed a standard format of analysis for evaluating Master Plans.

Our key tasks in this study were to read and analyze Massachusetts Executive Order 385 and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 41, Section 81D, collect and read the master plans of twelve selected communities with in the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), develop a survey, conduct interviews, analyze the returned surveys, and develop a standard format of analysis that would give SRPEDD a better system for overseeing the coordination and compliance of growth management regulations.

Considering the life of a master plan in its entirety is an important part of this analysis. This study has assessed master plans in both formation and implementation. A division between the planning process and plan implementation was created, in order to highlight the difference between plan making and planning.

The plan making process focuses on the research and development of a master plan. This aspect of the study addresses the various components required of master plans. While Chapter 41, Section 81D is specific about what master plans should include, each community is very different. Municipalities have different resources, needs, personalities and levels of administration. Furthermore, the process of designing a master plan has advanced considerably in the last ten years. These factors combined make master plans very dissimilar to one another. The challenge of this study was to develop a method to evaluate these varied documents in a common way.


Section 1: Pages 1-42