Fort Devens reuse :a case study in regional land use planning for sustainability

Roddis, E. Heidi
Mitch Thomashow
Department of Environmental Studies
This case study in land use planning evaluates plans for reuse of a 9,310 acre Army base located in north central Massachusetts. The Devens Reuse Plan is the first broad-based plan for redevelopment of a large scale military base that has received approval from the affected communities, as well as state and federal agencies. The planning effort was founded on goals of environmental and economic sustainability. A new model for regional land use regulation with a unified, one-stop permitting process is being implemented at Devens, and the benefits and risks of this approach are evaluated. The study examines the roles of public participation and interagency cooperation in consensus building for a complex planning project. Sustainable development concepts were incorporated into the Reuse Plan. The report evaluates the results of the planning effort in relation to the goal of preserving the site's natural resources and in comparison to protections otherwise provided through federal and state laws. Recommendations are provided regarding additional environmental protection measures. This case study may be of particular interest to those concerned with building sustainable communities; involving the public in land use planning; balancing multiple, potentially conflicting interests; and regional approaches to land use management.

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