Date of Award

1990

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

John J. Kupa

Abstract

For many years, the New England region has been subject to increased demand for residential and commercial land uses. This demand, combined with the reality of a fixed resource, has resulted in growing conflict between preservation of open space and development in New England communities. As municipal leaders attempt to balance expenditures with revenues, they often question if it is fiscally and economically prudent to invest in protecting open space lands, since they feel it may jeopardize the tax base. Yet, environmental quality, attained in part by the conservation of open space, is often the basis for sustaining the quality of life in these communities. Areas of open space land provide scenic vistas, as well as recreational and environmental qualities. These not only protect natural resources but also increase the value of adjacent properties benefiting fiscal and economic stability of the community as well.

There is a need for quantitative assessment of the impacts of land conservation strategies on a community's economy and tax base. This is particularly important to justify municipal expenditures and land use strategies for conservation of open space under the constraints of dwindling budgets and local opposition. Little fiscal or economic analysis has been undertaken on the conservation of open space in rural New England communities. Local leaders are in need of a model for evaluating fiscal policy decisions.

The goal of this research is to estimate the fiscal impact of open space preservation on a New England community, thereby providing local decision makers with useful information for justifying open space preservation as a viable use of public funds and land use controls. This research will address two fundamental questions; the first is the fiscal impact of land conservation strategies on a community. Secondly, the research will test the hypothesis that conservation of open space enhances the value of adjacent properties and therefore offsets the monetary costs of conservation within communities.

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