Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

John J. Kupa


This paper attempts to define the role of current individual sewage disposal system (ISDS) programs as they relate to the overall land development process. Specifically, the focus is on residential development with emphasis given to the criteria used to determine site suitability. Two state programs, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, will be evaluated in this manner in order to provide some insight into the scope of this type of regulation and its potential impact on development. To demonstrate the effect of each program on residential land use, a case study of a Rhode Island subdivision proposal is included. This discussion will focus on soil suitability minimum lot size, setbacks and other factors affecting residential density and distribution within the subdivision.

The concluding chapters will introduce the concept of carrying capacity as a planning tool and its applicability in areas of "ecological significance." The emphasis here will be on the role of ISDS suitability as one of the critical limiting factors for determining an area's overall threshold capacity. The need for comprehensive, land use planning prevails as the growth of alternative and innovative approaches to on-site sewage disposal threatens to overcome the physical constraints of the land and nullify this type of de-facto zoning in the near future.



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