Population: 6,147,132
Counties: 8
Governor Jane Swift

Key Laws/Administrative Actions/Media

Click here for the amount of protected land in Massachusetts, and click here to review Massachusetts's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

Although Massachusetts was viewed in the early 1990s as a state on the verge of "Growing Smart,"1 the momentum seemed to wane. In 1996, Governor Cellucci issued an executive order, Planning for Growth, establishing a framework within which state agencies could cooperativley plan for growth and protect natural resources.2 Although the level of enthusiasm from the early 1990s was not sustained, a March 1999 symposium planned by the Massachusetts Environmetnal League and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy continued the leadership and education on this issue.

The above material is excerpted with permission from "Smart Growth at Century's End: The State of the States" by Patricia E. Salkin, published in The Urban Lawyer, Sumr 1999 v 31 n 3, p. 601.  For a complete copy of the article, please contact The Urban Lawyer.

Key Laws:
For an overview of Massachusetts's planning and zoning statutes, see the excellent summary provided by the American Planning Association.

Community Preservation Act (2000) 
The CPA would allow communities to raise their property taxes by up to 3 percent to create preservation funds.  The bill would also provide a new state fund financed by higher fees on deed transactions.  The Community Preservation Act is based upon a successful "Land Bank" bill for Cape Cod, under which 15 Cape communities have voted to raise their property taxes to fund preservation. 

Brownfields Act (1998)
On August 5, 1998 Governor Cellucci signed into law the "Brownfields Act", establishing new incentives to encourage parties to clean up and redevelop contaminated property in Massachusetts. This Act will provide liability relief and financial incentives to attract new resources for these properties, while ensuring that the Commonwealth's environmental standards are met. Major features of the Act are summarized.  For more information, please go to

Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (1977 G.L. c.30, ss.61-62).
The statute requires that all agencies of the Commonwealth determine the impact on the natural environment of all works, projects, or activities conducted by them and use all practicable means and measures to avoid or minimize the environmental harm that has been identified. It also provides the procedure--the Environmental Impact Report--by which that obligation will be satisfied and authorizes the Secretary of Environmental Affairs to oversee the review process. MEPA applies to projects directly undertaken by state agencies and to private projects for which state permits are sought or in which state funding or land transfer is involved. MEPA does not apply to projects needing just local approvals. 
Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office 
100 Cambridge Street, Room 2000 
Boston, MA 02202 
Phone (617) 626-1020

For a description of Massachusett's Historical Preservation Programs, please go to

Administrative Actions:
Sustainable Design & Green Building
In an effort to promote sustainable design in Massachusetts, the Operational Services Division (OSD) and the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) worked jointly during the Spring of 1998 with a team of graduate students from the Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy Program to write a two volume report on
sustainable design issues.

Community Development Plan for Housing (Exec. Order 418)
The Governor announced the creation of a new Community Development Plan program on January 21, 2000 through Executive Order 418.  The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Executive Office of Transportation and Construction, and Department of
Housing and Community Development will, together, develop and implement a two-year program to provide technical assistance and resources for the purposes of creating community development plans that, among other things, will determine:

  • Where new housing opportunities can be created
  • Where economic development should be targeted
  • How existing transportation infrastructure will be improved
  • Where and how open space will be preserved
If your community is interested and would like assistance in designing a planning process to meet the program's objectives, please contact Ann Whittaker or (617) 727-7001.

The other lead agency for the Community Development Plan/Executive Order 418 initiative is the Mass. Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA).

The Community Development Plan guidebook can be accessed here or from either agency's EO 418 website.

Massachusetts Historical Commission 
The MHC is also the office of the state archaeologist. For more information on MHC activities call (617) 727-8470; TDD: 1-800-392-6090

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission 
A planning partnership serving the interests of local government  in central and southern Worcester County.

Development Framework: 2020 Growth Strategy for Central Massachusetts
As the final step in the Development Framework process, the
CMRPC has adopted the 2020 Growth Strategy for Central
Massachusetts. An Executive Summary of the findings concerning
the region's land use development, projections of future growth, along
with a list of statewide and regional initiatives to be undertaken by
CMRPC in support of local planning efforts is available for viewing.

"A plan to remake the heart of town," Boston Globe. April 29, 2001.

"Pedestrians, cars vie for Hub right of way," Boston Herald. April 22, 2001.

"A whittled-down 'Urban Ring' emerges, along with obstacles," Boston Globe. June 18, 2001.

"Major fight expected on housing legislation," Boston Globe. July 1, 2001.

"State weighs steps to stem rampant sprawl," Boston Globe. July 8, 2001.

"Recycling the 'throwaway' strip mall," Boston Globe. July 15, 2001.

American Farmland Trust
Northeast Field Program
110 Spring Street
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Tel: 518-581-0078

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
113 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617-661-3016

The Conservation Law Foundation 
CLF works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England.  CLF's advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a non-profit, member-supported organization.  Increasingly, CLF has been active on issues such as land-use and sprawl.

Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
The purpose of MassBike is to promote the bicycle as a safe, healthful, enjoyable, efficient, and environmentally sound means of transportation, to seek to establish an atmosphere which enhances those desirable qualities of bicycle transportation, and to serve and protect the interests of the bicycling public. The primary means of achieving these goals is the education of bicyclists and motorists as to safe riding skills, good driving habits with regard to bicyclists, and the rules of the road.

Environmental League of Massachusetts
The Environmental League is a member-based, nonprofit organization, that advocates for environmental policy and its subsequent implementation.  ELM's work spans issues from brownfields and open space protection to land use planning and smart growth, with a significant success in passing the Open Space Bond Act of 1996, which will provide millions of dollars to preserve green space throughout the state.  Their site is a good source for current legislation and links to key state agencies.

EOEA's staff contacts are listed here 
Lastly, the Boston Globe now makes you get an account and charges you for access to its archives so the some of the Media articles that you cite now take you to the general website rather than the specific articles.

1 See, Salkin, "Statewide Comprehensive Planning: The Next Wave," in Statewide Comprehensive Planning (American Bar Association 1993).
2 See, MA Executive Order 385 (1996).