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Abstract: A successful Growth Management strategy must seek to find "Common Ground" between the needs of growing communities and the natural environment that supports them, between the past and the future and between the desires for social and environmental justice. In short, they seek a more sustainable way forward. 2011 marks the five-year anniversary of the introduction of Rhode Island's Land Use 2025 State Guide Plan. With this plan, Rhode Island adopted a hybrid solution to address the needs of the unique range of Urban, Suburban and Rural communities within its borders. Urban and suburban communities were accommodated within a clearly defined Urban Services Boundary (USB). The needs of rural communities are accommodated within designated Growth Centers. In addition Growth Centers have been identified to concentrate development within the Urban Services Boundary. The use of Growth Centers to focus public investments in development and infrastructure was a generally accepted growth management strategy well before its introduction in Land Use 2010 and was the subject of a report by the Governor's Growth Planning Council in 2002. In 2008, Technical Paper #160: "Mapping Potential Sites Suitable for High Density Residential Development", looked at development capacity of land available within the Urban Services Boundary; but it did not look at Growth Centers outside of the Urban Services Boundary. Before we could look at the relationship between Growth Centers and Affordable Housing in Rhode Island, we determined that it would be important to find a way of measuring the potential of rural Growth Centers in relation to the goals and objectives of Land Use 2025. To do this we used GIS mapping and analysis techniques to find a way of evaluating the range of different conditions found within these more rural Growth Centers. By focusing on this one issue it is hoped that "Finding Common Ground, Part I" will provide useful information that can aid in the ongoing development and refinement of Rhode Island's use of this important concept for guiding rural and exurban development and building more sustainable and equitable communities.

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