3.1a – Land Use
What is the historic development pattern of Pittsfield? Why does it make Pittsfield attractive?
The historic development pattern of Pittsfield is reminiscent of a typical American small town in the pre World War II era. Traditional small towns are characterized by compact, dense development built to the human scale. The growth pattern is incremental with density reducing from the center outwards. The heart of the town is therefore its center, which supports a variety of uses and is also the setting for public gatherings. Residential neighborhoods are closely interconnected with the center and the whole town is pedestrian friendly. Such towns evoke a strong sense of place attachment in its residents. Pittsfield with its charming downtown and the surrounding older neighborhoods still retains this character to a large extent.
Unfortunately this cherished small town character is disappearing from the American landscape. Suburban development, characterized by low densities, segregated uses and auto dependence, has become predominant while small towns have become rare. Even in Pittsfield, the relatively new strip development along US Highway 54 (Washington Street) on the eastern and western fringes of the city threatens to change the historic physical structure.However, there are several advantages in maintaining the compact, historical physical development in Pittsfield –
- Good physical form – Pittsfield will be able to retain the much sought after ‘small town character’ described above. The strong sense of place that exists in its central square and beautiful neighborhoods, which is appreciated by residents and visitors alike, will continue to thrive (refer issues and neighborhood swap report).
- Increased accessibility – The town will be well connected to facilities; there will be alternative travel routes, and travel distances to reach services within the community will be minimized thereby increasing accessibility.
- Increased efficiency – Infrastructure costs due to building extra lengths of road, extending sewer and water facilities will be minimized, promoting efficiency.
- Environmental protection – By developing in a sensible compact way, Pittsfield can ensure that the rich natural and agricultural land in the region will not be encroached on indiscriminately.
Therefore it is an important goal of the Pittsfield Comprehensive Plan to maintain the historic growth pattern of the city and thereby enhance the quality of the living environment for its people.