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Amherst MA: A New Village Plan for Atkins Corner - page 13 / 13





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Smart Growth Leadership Case Library

Teaching Note:

Important ideas illustrated in the Amherst case include:

  • 1.

    Be prepared when a window of opportunity opens for system change: the necessity for road realignment and the presence of just two landowners created a unique opportunity;

  • 2.

    Engage the community throughout the planning and implementation process, including all stakeholders;

  • 3.

    Be resourceful in the search for support for good planning tools and analysis, as well as for good planning process;

  • 4.

    Approach public discourse on planning in the understanding that most people learn visually, not in the abstract but in the concrete: people here specifically responded to the excellent visuals;

  • 5.

    Have a strategy for dealing with the opponents of change: La Cour specifically invited key nay-sayers to public meetings, and randomly assigned people to discussion groups at public meetings to avoid entrenchment;

  • 6.

    Cultivate transparency and trust, and practice genuine asking and active listening skills to overcome fear;

  • 7.

    Leadership matters: only vision, skill, dedication, and persistence on the part of both the Town planning office and a self-interested local institution and private landowner made change possible;

  • 8.

    Significant change on the landscape takes time: as we say in Maine, “If you’re a mile into the woods and you find yourself lost, you’re probably going to be at least a mile getting out.”


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