Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

John J. Kupa


This research project is a case study of land-use decision making in Rhode Island. Choices concerning land development effect people within the local and citizenry throughout the state. Land use evolution and its controls have been incremental with various catalysts serving as the shaper and influencer. Historically, land-use planning and decision-making is found at the local level. The perception of individual property rights and land-use controls at the local level are related. Environmental considerations are steeped in inherent societal rights. Rights to private property is a constitutional hallmark. Environmental protection is a legislative mandate. Perceptions of these rights contribute to a planning dilemma: individual rights versus societal rights. Awareness of this fact is one of the underpinnings of citizen participation.

Historically comprehensive planning has been developed on a local level (701 program) by officials, directly or indirectly, responsible to a specific constituency. Ostensibly these plans reflect the will of the people through the electoral process and via citizen participation during plan formulation. The mechanisms and apparatus for environmental protection is appropriately found at the state level. Pertinent questions in the discussions are what authority is making the decision and how is land-use decision-making influenced vis-a-vis state policy making? Until this issue is resolved the conflict and confusion of incrementalism will reign over any true attempts at comprehensive planning. An attempt to verify this view uses the Rhode Island Coastal Zone Management Act 1971 (RICZMA).

The RICZMA is the case study. This law provides the legal authority for the Salt Pond Special Area Management Plan. The plan is regional in scope and comprehensive in nature and significantly expands the heretofore borders of the coastal zone. The plan establishes dual responsibility for land-use authority. As previously mentioned this establishes significant policy questions concerning land-use decision-making and the basic format of future community growth with implications toward the formation of a comprehensive community plan. This project will document and explain the advent of and problem associated with the dual landuse decision-making process.



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