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.


Over one thousand acres of farmland, open space, and wetlands are converted to residential or commercial development each week in New England. In Massachusetts, nearly two acres of open space land is lost to development every hour. Current development trends suggest that this building pattern, referred to as sprawl, is likely to continue into the near future. Because the negative consequences of sprawl development are highly visible, residents of Massachusetts are becoming increasingly concerned about its impact on their communities. Residents see the unique character of their communities being transformed by uncontrolled residential and commercial development. Green fields and open space that helped define the landscapes of their communities is being rapidly converted to new residential subdivisions and shopping complexes. Since sprawl development has such a direct impact on a community's quality of life, many cities and towns in Massachusetts are looking for growth management tools that will allow them to prevent sprawl development and therefore protect the unique landscape and character of their communities.

Open Space and Recreation Plans are one growth management tool available to cities and towns seeking to prevent the loss of valuable open space lands. These plans are specifically designed to protect open space from future development and ensure public access to recreational areas. There are many reasons why a city or town might choose to protect its open space lands from future development. Most residents of small towns believe that open space land is essential for defining the rural character of their communities. For other communities, some open space parcels are worth preserving because of the land's historic value. The preservation of open space land for wildlife habitat is an important concern for many communities across Massachusetts. For larger cities and towns with limited open space lands, preserving open space parcels for recreational purposes has become an important quality of life issue. Regardless of the reason, Open Space and Recreation Plans, in conjunction with appropriate zoning regulations, are an effective tool for preserving a community's critical open space and recreational resources.


Section 9: Pages 1-70