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.


What are the most exemplary cities or towns in the state of Massachusetts? This is the question that this study explores. At the beginning of this semester, Regional Planning Studio 1 was given the task of researching and identifying the three to five municipalities in the state that exhibit the most exemplary planning practices.

To accomplish this task, our research team broke into groups, each addressing what it means for a community to be noted as exemplary. The groups looked at four major categories of communities, those with the fastest growing populations, those experiencing a decline in population, the wealthiest, and the lowest income communities. Data from the most recent Census enabled us to place towns within these groups. From here, towns were researched in depth according to the criteria each group felt most relevant. In the end, each group was able to choose one or two municipalities that they felt most deserved the term exemplary.

Our hope is that the towns chosen by our study can be used as models of effective planning in other towns, both in the state of Massachusetts and the nation. The five towns chosen by our research team exhibit planning practices that can be used as models in other towns experiencing similar situations. This study serves as both exploration into what makes for effective planning practices and a model for others to follow.


Section 1: Pages 1-31