North Suburban Planning Council Priority Mapping Project


Imagery of open space, transportation, and development

About the Project

The NSPC Priority Mapping Project provided an opportunity to promote dialogue about land use issues that transcend municipal boundaries. Local perspectives are key to identifying local and regional priorities for development, preservation, and infrastructure investments in the subregion. The project will result in identification of the following local priorities and regional priorities for the subregion:

Meetings and conversations with municipal staff and stakeholders, in addition to a large, subregional forum, provide the foundation for identifying these priority areas.

The following communities participated in the project: Burlington, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn. This project was made possible by funding from the 2012 District Local Technical Assistance Program, the Unified Planning Work Program, and Sustainable Communities funding for NSPC subregion. View the project scope.

NSPC Priority Mapping Project Final Report Now Available

The NSPC Priority Mapping Project has been a 1.5 year-long effort to identify and map local and regional priorities for development, preservation, and infrastructure investments within the subregion. Learn about the findings of the report. Participate in a discussion of how the information emerging from the report can support continued local planning for development, preservation, and infrastructure. Community advocates, municipal officials, and interested individuals who live, work, go to school in, and play in the subregion municipalities are invited to attend.

Read the final report:

Final report supplement: view the detailed lists of local preservation, development, and infrastructure investment priorities  identified by each participating municipality.

On February 25, 2014, over 50 people attend the Priority Mapping Project Next Steps Forum to share their ideas of the policies, planning, projects, and advocacy needed to advance the local and regional priorities iidentified in the report. Read the forum summary.

Project Timeline

  • March - June 2012: local priorities meetings with up to five municipalities in the subregion
  • June - July 2012: presentation of local priorities identified to Planning Boards and Boards of Selectmen in each participating municipality; presentations open to the broader public
  • July - September 2012: local priorities meetings with up to four municipaliites in the subregion
  • September - December 2012: presentation of local priorities identified to Planning Boards and Boards of Selectmen in each participating municipality; presentations open to the broader public
  • December 2012 - March 2013: MAPC review of regionally significant growth areas: elevating local priorities identified that are regionally significant; production of subregional priorities maps
  • February 13, 2013: NSPC members dialogue on subregional priorities
  • March 27, 2013: Evening subregional forum inviting public input on process to identify regional priorities in the subregion
  • June 12, 2013, 9:00 - 11:30 am: NSPC subregion meeting discussion of report draft + subregional maps
  • July 10 - July 31, 2013: First report comment period
  • September 18 - October 2, 2013: Second report comment period
  • October 9, 2013: NSPC subregion member's meeting to discuss final draft of report and action plan for advancing regional priorities for the subregion
  • November 6 - November 13, 2013: Final report comment period
  • January 2014: Final Report Released
  • February 25, 2014: Priority Mapping Project Next Steps - Public Forum

Public Meetings

On Wednesday, March 27th, MAPC hosted 55 people from throughout the North Suburban subregion for an evening program inviting public feedback on our process for identifying subregional priority development areas. The evening was a combination of plenary presentation, small table exercises and discussion, and keypad polling. We invited participants to help us think about how to weight certain criteria/factors that help us assess whether certain development types are a good fit for a location in the context of the characteristics of the subregion. Many participants remarked that the information presented gave much to think about and that while the exercise was challenging at times, it provided access to information that is not always readily available. Staffers from neighboring regional planning agencies (NMCOG and MVPC) and staff from EOHED and the MWRA were also in attendance.

View materials that were provided at the March 27th public meeting.

Schedule of Meetings with Municipal Staff and Briefings to Local Boards

Member Municipality

Local Priorities Meeting with Municipal Staff

Local Priorities Briefing
to Local Boards

BurlingtonJune 22, 2012

February 7, 2013
Planning Board Meeting with invitation to other boards

LynnfieldN/AN/A
North ReadingOctober 5, 2012

December 3, 2012
Board of Selectmen Meeting with invitation to other boards

ReadingMay 16, 2012June 19, 2012
Board of Selectmen Meeting with invitation to other boards
StonehamSeptember 18, 2012

January 22, 2013
Board of Selectmen Meeting with invitation to other boards

WakefieldAugust 21, 2012December 11, 2012
Planning Board Meeting with invitation to other boards
WilmingtonJuly 23, 2012January 8, 2013
Planning Board Meeting with invitation to other boards
WinchesterMay 16, 2012September 18, 2012
Special joint meeting of the Planning Board and Conservation Commission with invitation to other boards
WoburnMay 24, 2012

March 20, 2013
Special meeting convened by Msyor Galvin with invitation to City Council, Redevelopment Authority, and Planning Board

Definitions of Terms

Priority Development Areas (PDA)

  • Locations potentially capable of supporting additional development or redevelopment, but that may first require additional investments in infrastructure.
  • May be a single use or mixed-use: a combination of retail, commercial, office, or housing.
  • Can range in size from a single lot to many acres.
  • May include adaptive reuse of existing buildings to preserve sense of place.
  • Generally characterized by good access, available infrastructure (primarily water and sewer), and an absence of environmental constraints.
  • Areas have undergone extensive area-wide or neighborhood planning processes and may have detailed recommendations for future actions.
  • Areas designated under state programs such as Chapter 43D (expedited permitting), Chapter 40R (smart growth zones) or Economic Opportunity Areas can be examples of PDAs.

Priority Preservation Areas (PPA)

  • Deserve special protection due to significant environmental factors and/or natural features, such as endangered species habitats, large blocks of high quality intact habitat (BioMap2), areas critical to water supply, scenic vistas, areas important to a cultural landscape, or areas of historical significance.
  • Are not currently permanently protected (e.g., via conservation restriction, municipal or state conservation land, land trust ownership, etc.).
  • In general, existing parks or new park facilities would not fall within this category.
  • May be critical to linking open space and also trails within a community across municipal boundaries that are part of a larger, regional network.

Significant Transportation Investments (STIs)

  • Transportation projects that have the potential to increase efficiency and enhance interconnectivity for facilities which serve regional transportation needs.
  • May be a project in a town or within a town’s subregion.
  • In most cases, these potential projects address major roadways as well as transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities that either individually or collectively serves regional travel needs.
  • May include improvements for commercial airports and intermodal freight facilities that are key to the regional economy.
  • Locally identified projects, along with projects from other statewide and regional planning documents, will be evaluated to develop an initial set of Regionally Significant Transportation Investments (RSTIs).

Other Significant Infrastructure Investments (SIIs)

  • Are infrastructure projects that have the potential to increase efficiency and capacity and enhance development potential for facilities/sites which serve regional needs.
  • May be a project in a town or within a town’s subregion.
  • In most cases, these potential projects address water, sewer/wastewater, stormwater, and may include new infrastructure upgrades/increase in capacity to existing infrastructure that either individually or collectively serve regional needs.
  • Locally identified projects, along with projects from other statewide and regional planning documents, will be evaluated to develop an initial set of Regionally Significant Infrastructure Investments (RSIIs).

Relevant MetroFuture Goals

#1. Population and job growth will be concentrated in developed areas already served by infrastructure, with slower growth in less developed areas where infrastructure is more limited.

#2. Most new growth will occur through reuse of previously developed land and buildings.

#4. In suburban municipalities, most new growth will occur near town and village centers.

#10. Growth in the region will be guided by informed, inclusive, and proactive planning.

#65. A robust network of protected open spaces, farms, parks, and greenways will provide wildlife habitat, ecological benefits, recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty.

Questions?

Contact MAPC Regional Planner and NSPC Subregional Coordinator Jennifer Erickson at jerickson@mapc.org or 617-733-0759.