Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

Marcia Marker Feld


Growth management would appear to be the key phrase in the field of planning for the coming decade. It is not a new idea, but one which has ignited both the interest and criticism of practitioners and theorists alike. It may well be a concept that's time has come. As the hidden costs of growth become more apparent, a new attitude is gradually emerging; one which stresses the importance of preserving the natural and cultural characteristics which make up a "humanly satisfying living environment. " The essential goal of growth management is closely related to the basic goal of city planning itself. Growth management attempts to organize, control, and coordinate the process of urban development so as to protect what we value in environmental, cultural, and aesthetic characteristics of the land while meeting the essential needs of the changing U.S. population for new housing, roads, energy, recreational, commercial and industrial facilities, and human services. It is a concept which incorporates when, where, and in what manner growth should be accommodated.

As a policy, it must address the physical, social and cultural, and political aspects of the "character" of a community, and which must generate a plan to preserve or improve this character. The physical aspects of a community's character are easily the most manifest; narrow roads, panoramic views, historic buildings, plentiful open space, and traditional town centers combine in a distinctive way in each community and often account for its residents' sense of identity and pride.

The social and cultural aspects, while less obvious, are equally important. Social and ethnic diversity, close-knit neighborhoods, traditional New England settlement patterns, and shared values form the basis for the town's sense of heritage. Finally, the political aspect of the character of a community consists largely of a strong tradition of home rule, and a reliance upon the town meeting form of government. This type of political forum indicates dependence on part-time local officials and a high level of citizen participation; factors which contribute to the residents' sense of concern about the town and its course of future development and growth.

Applied on a local level, growth management or growth/no-growth policies are perceived as merely affecting the geographic distribution of people and economic activity within some larger society, such as the region or state. The determination of this distribution, however, may affect more than the physical land use configuration of the region. It may also alter established delivery systems for human services by shifting urban development patterns, thereby creating new centers and disrupting old neighborhoods.

In the course of developing a growth management policy for a state, it is possible to have instances where two contiguous townships may have conflicting goals regarding growth; goals which may eventually result in problems in the development and use of the common border. In the state of Massachusetts, such a situation exists between the towns of Plymouth and Wareham. Plymouth has experienced tremendous growth in the last decade and has adopted a policy designed to limit future growth. Wareham, on the other hand, has endorsed an active growth-seeking policy. There are potential problems implied in the subsequent implementation of these growth policies. Conflicting land uses, disruption of service delivery, and the extension of the infrastructure of one of the towns might create serious repercussions in the adjacent township.

An analysis of the growth policies of these two towns (Plymouth and Wareham) reveals the potential problems to be faced by these communities, and others in a similar situation, as they develop along their respective guidelines. The conceptual framework of growth policies in general, will be discussed, followed by a comparison of the past development and current demographic, economic, and political characteristics of each town. This should provide some insight into how these towns attained their current attitude/policy toward future development. The specific growth policies of Plymouth and Wareham will then be analyzed, identifying potential areas of conflict between the two communities. Finally, recommendations will be submitted as to how each of these towns might best implement the policy and programs developed to achieve their respective goals without harmfully disrupting the development of neighboring towns.



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