Placemaking & Zoning

Smart growth is about connecting people with the places where they live and work. The Alliance supports placemaking and zoning efforts around Massachusetts to help create:

  • Public spaces that draw people together,
  • Walkable neighborhoods that provide transportation choices,
  • Strong, healthy communities with housing options for all residents, and
  • Vibrant commercial spaces that spur healthy local economies.

Zoning Reform Campaign

Read about ongoing efforts to reform state zoning laws.

One of the biggest obstacles to creating more great places in Massachusetts is local zoning. These  laws guide how Massachusetts cities and towns use land for residential, commercial, and industrial uses. Many of these ordinances are outdated and prevent us from building any more of those special places—like town centers, urban squares, and villages—that have made New England unique.


  1. Statewide zoning reform to make development more predictable and help municipalities plan for future growth, specifically creating more neighborhoods with a mix of homes and businesses.
  2. More resources for local and regional planning, including: increased funding to help cities and towns across the state identify Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and Priority Preservation Areas (PPAs); local grants to support zoning changes; and expansion of technical assistance programs like Great Neighborhoods and Sustainable Communities.
  3. Make sure that the state coordinates its programs across agencies in order to make efficient use of our public dollars. The objective should be to create vibrant places that are attractive to people and investment.