Date of Award

Spring 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In New Hampshire, local communities confront development related impacts, such as, environmental degradation, loss of open space, economic and social structure-based changes, and community character. Local land use regulation is the principal tool available to the municipality that seeks to manage problems associated with growth. The policy decision process employed to develop these policy responses is a complex process of social and political interactions. These decisions and processes are rooted in the community master plan. The master plan serves as the blueprint for a community's vision and its goals. Unfortunately, our understanding of this process is limited.

The policy sciences analytic framework provides a tool to examine and coordinate this complex process into its important constituents. By selecting three similar communities in the southern growth region of the New Hampshire, we can see that the analytic framework provides an efficient means to report and compare how communities engage the land use decision process. The results of the three town comparative case study indicate that communities treat data and growth-related problems from a similar perspective. Furthermore, the results indicate an extreme range of social processes utilized to engage citizens--two communities employed little or no social process while the remaining community developed comprehensive outreach and engagement. This variation appears to have led this final community to defined goals and objectives and a successful implementation strategy. Comparing the three communities it appears that the weight given to the social process contributes to the master plan's success in implementing goals and objectives as stated.