Publication Date


Committee Members

Scott Bollens, Chair - John Mullin, Member - Randall Arendt, Member


This Master's Project was published by The Center for Rural Massachusetts


This manual introduces the planning tool of build-out analysis, and describes, in a step-wise fashion, the data requirements, materials, and techniques necessary to complete both the graphic and numerical portions of the analysis.

The target users of this manual are planning boards and commissions, conservation and citizen groups concerned with growth management, and professionals in the fields of administration and planning. Although written for use in Massachusetts, it is equally applicable anywhere the needed data can be assembled.

Completion of a build-out analysis results in information that reveals visually what the landscape could look like, and numerically what the resulting population could be, given continued growth that is subject to the zoning ordinances and subdivision control regulations in place at the time of the analysis. As such, it can serve as an inspiration and catalyst for a process that can restructure applicable planning and zoning mechanisms in order to more faithfully reflect the needs and aspirations of a community.

The final product is a paper base-map, colored to show both the lands constrained from further development and those lands available for some form of conversion. In addition, a "see-through" overlay is produced, showing the pattern and intensity of the potential development on the buildable lands. The numerical analysis, as a derivative of the base-map, quantifies the extent of the transformation in terms of acreage consumed, and the number of new housing units, residents, and school children.