Resource Links


Resource Description
American Planning Association (APA)
The APA is the national professional association of planners. This site contains a great deal of interesting information regarding the profession, innovative examples of community planning elsewhere, as well as updates on pending state and national legislation that affects planning issues.
American Planning Association, Massachusetts Chapter
Good overview of planning issues in Massachusetts - from perspective of planners.
Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) NMCOG is 1 of 13 Massachusetts regional planning agencies, and encompasses Lowell and eight surrounding communities regarding Westford. They provide comprehensive regional planning services in such areas as transportation, economic development, land use, housing, geographic information system services, and open space plans.
Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
MAPC was established by the State Legislature as the official regional planning agency for 101 cities and towns in Metropolitan Boston. Although MAPC does not include Westford, the site includes useful planning resources.
Sierra Club Smart Growth
This site offers a number of resources for citizens who would like to learn more about Smart Growth.
Smart Growth Online Massachusetts
Updated information and news articles on Smart Growth in Massachusetts.
UMass Citizens' Planning and Training Collaborative
UMass offers many excellent courses for local board or committee members or citizens who would like detailed information regarding zoning and subdivision law, as well as other development issues such as drainage and "Approval Not Required" plans.
Zoning Reform Working Group (ZRWG)
The ZRWG has been working for several years to draft comprehensive revisions to the State's existing statutory framework for land use. Their work resulted in the proposal of the Land Use Reform Act currently pending before the Legislature. The Planning Board voted to join the statewide Zoning Reform Coalition, and the Town Planner has been an active participant in the Working Group, attending monthly meetings at the State House and participating in the Outreach Subcommittee.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Resource Description
Community Preservation Act Resources This State website includes several publications that offer guidance on bylaw and regulation revisions to promote smart growth and sustainable development, as well as innovative uses of Community Preservation Act funds.
City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEA) Conservation Restriction (CR) Handbook The EOEA's CR Handbook is a step by step guide on creating a sound CR.
Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
Good site for information regarding the Comprehensive Permit Law, Executive Order 418, and other DHCD policies and programs.
Massachusetts Geographic Information Systems (GIS) GIS is a powerful technology for mapping data to support public policy decisions. Massachusetts has done a great deal to facilitate GIS analysis, in large part through MassGIS and the free data layers that are available for download.
Massachusetts State Government Website This site offers access to all state resources available online.
Massachusetts Legislature This site provides links to the homepages of all legislators, as well as links to the Massachusetts General Laws. This is an excellent resource for statutory research.

Federal Government

Resource Description
Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth Initiative Although local land use is largely beyond the jurisdiction of the federal government, the EPA has officially 'weighed in' on the 'Smart Growth' movement that is the foundation for many of today's planning initiatives.
NASA's Urban Sprawl: The Big Picture
NASA's website offers a unique perspective on 'Urban Sprawl,' illustrating regional land use patterns over time.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration This federal government site provides a "visioning" tool to review the impacts of various development types in a coastal environment: "conventional" subdivision; "conservation" subdivision and "traditional neighborhood development."
United States Geological Survey Federal resources for protection of groundwater quality.


Resource Description
Affordable Housing Design Advisor Good design can make a world of difference for the people who will live in the affordable housing you help build, and for the neighborhood surrounding it. The Affordable Housing Design Advisor is here to help you at every step.
Green Neighborhoods Alliance Massachusetts group promotes conservation design in subdivisions.

Land Protection

Resource Description
Massachusetts Audubon Society
The Massachusetts Audubon Society is the largest conservation organization in New England, concentrating its efforts on protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife.
Trust for Public Land Site includes many good resources, including this report outlining the fiscal benefits of land acquisition for water quality protection.
Wildlands Trust
The Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the natural heritage of Southeastern Massachusetts.