Welcome to the Library of Traditional Neighborhoods!

In recent years, many communties have updated their zoning bylaws in order to enable compact development, to maintain their rural character, and to create a greater variety of well designed housing types.  During these efforts people often describe places that they have visited - places that they think are good examples of what they want in their community.  We often hear  “I wish we could build what they did in their town!” or “Wouldn’t it be great to have that type of traditional development here?”  

To facilitate these conversations and to provide educational materials that support the approval of bylaws at local Town Meetings, SRPEDD worked with communities to create a Library of Traditional Neighborhoods that explores a wide variety of these places.  Each neighborhood is a real world example from Southeastern MA and RI.  They are illustrated by photos, diagrams, simple sketches, site plans, and maps.  Each neighborhood is also “measured” for key zoning and development characteristics including building height, setbacks, lot size, lot coverage, dwelling units per acre (UPA), and floor area ratios (FAR).  Finally, the library provides a “zoning worksheet” that enables communities to understand how their existing zoning relates to measurements taken from desired places.  This "compare and contrast" exercise allows people to easily see what zoning changes might be necessary in their community.        

Every neighborhood in the library has a booklet that presents (1) an Introduction, (2) Street Design, (3) Development Patterns, (4) Building Characteristics, and (5) an Example Lot.

What is a Traditional Neighborhood?

When you visit a Traditional Neighborhood, it leaves an impression.  There’s often an “eye-level” view that creates a mental image that sticks with you.  It's this "aha!" moment that makes so many people say  “I wish our project could look like that!”  Many traditional neighborhoods, such as Fairhaven Center (pictured below), also have the following characteristics:

  • A mix of uses
  • Walkable and human-scale environments
  • Buildings that meet the street
  • Massings that are broken up
  • Visual and physical variety
  • Low traffic speeds and on-street parking (or parking behind buildings)
  • Trees
  • Street design that is in-scale with the built environment


Meet the Traditional Neighborhoods

Working with planners from the region, SRPEDD explored the traditional neighborhoods listed here.  (Please note that we plan to expand this list in the near future).  Click each link to download a booklet that presents each neighborhood's (1) Introduction, (2) Street Design, (3) Development Pattern, (4) Building Characteristics, and (5) Example Lot.  Please allow enough time for these PDF files to open/download.


Zoning Worksheet

This library also includes a zoning worksheet (the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet pictured below) that allows you to compare all the Traditional Neighborhoods to your own zoning requirements.  Just follow the directions in the worksheet: (1) use the drop-down list to select a Traditional Neighborhood, (2) enter your corresponding zoning information, and (3) check out the automatic calculations.

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