Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

Dennis C. Muniak


Through the years, the special purpose district has quietly been expanding and growing more important. This is true both in our own state of Rhode Island, as well as across the nation. Today the special district plays a very significant role in the governmental pattern of the United States. Indicators of their importance include their number, geographical extent, functions, and finances. Despite the importance of this emerging power the special district is often ignored and seldom understood. As the district device comes into increasing use it is important that the planner understand what it is, what it can be used for, and what implications this special administrative and financing device may have upon planning at all levels of government.

It is the intention of this paper to evaluate the special purpose district in terms of the general principles of regional planning, and to relate this study specifically to the State of Rhode Island.

Chapter I consists of background regarding the role of the special district, a definition of terms, a national overview, and a regional planning commentary. Chapter II deals specifically with the role of the special district in Rhode Island and provides a detailed current inventory. Chapter III presents conclusions which are drawn from the study, as well as resulting recommendations.

The substance of this paper reflects detailed research analysis, and practical recommendations. It provides a better understanding of an important class of governmental units.