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Land-Use Planning in the Doldrums:

Growth Management in Massachusetts' I-495 Region

September 30, 2007
Christina Rosan (Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT) and Lawrence Susskind (Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, MIT)

Between 1990 and 2000, communities along Route 495, a beltway about 20 miles west of Boston, grew about twice as fast as the greater Boston region as a whole. How did the communities in this corridor respond to that growth, and what role did planning and planners play in that response?

To answer these questions, during 2005 we interviewed local offi cials, real estate developers, leaders of local organizations, and leaders of regional planning entities in eight representative communities in the corridor defined by Interstate Highway 495 (I-495), the region’s outer belt highway. We then prepared case studies for each community and reviewed them for common themes and key differences. This analysis showed that while all eight communities faced similar pressures and shared similar concerns, they responded to those pressures and concerns in ways that were at times strikingly similar and at other times significantly different.

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Map of the I-495 region in Massachusetts