LID Checklist/Bylaw Review

Building Community Resilience Through Local Regulations

Climate Change, including rising temperatures, sea level rise, stronger storms, more intense freeze-thaw cycles, and increased frequency of drought are creating immeasurable challenges for communities. 

At the local level, municipalities have significant power to avoid these impacts by implementing land use policies and development designs. Municipalities can be proactive by adopting rules that support nature-based solutions to combat climate change. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. A Regulatory review using existing tools, such as the Bylaw Review tool and the LID Self-Assessment, is a necessary early step.

Mass Audubon's Excel Based Bylaw Review Tool

Low Impact Development (LID) Self-Assessment

LID is both a site planning and design strategy that attempts to mimic natural treatment processes in soil and vegetation in order to maintain pre-development hydrology. The self-assessment allows an in-depth review of the standards, ordinances, and regulations that shape development in your community, which directly influences the health and quality of land and water resources. The assessment attempts to guide you through a systematic comparison of your local development rules against current model development principles. The questions identify specific methods to reduce runoff from new construction and redevelopment and include topics ranging from open space and land disturbance to impervious surfaces and soil erosion control.

Bylaw Review Tool

The Bylaw Review Tool allows you to compare local land use regulations with best practices. The analysis framework in the Bylaw Review Tool is designed to assist communities in applying cost-effective low impact development (LID) techniques. This template allows you to evaluate local land use regulations in relation to models. 

Key areas of analysis in the Bylaw Tool include:

  1. Overall Site Design: Open Space Residential Design (OSRD) vs. conventional subdivisions
  2. Project design and layout standards in relation to LID: Road layout width, curbing, drainage, sidewalks, parking, landscaping
  3. Maintenance and operations, mechanisms for enforcement: Who is responsible for maintaining drainage/LID; easements, homeowner association option, municipal inspection and administration systems
Check out the Bylaw Review Tool storymap with step-by-step instructions on how to use the Bylaw Review Tool. 
If you have any questions about the Bylaw Review Tool, email Mass Audubon at:
Learn more about how to conduct a bylaw review by scrolling through the Story Map below or using this link.

The “Building Community Resilience Through Local Regulations” curriculum guides a user through different components of improving climate resilience through local regulations that support nature-based climate solutions, like low-impact development or LID. The curriculum highlights bylaw review tool designed to help communities assess local regulations with a conservation lens. 

The bylaw curriculum was funded in part by the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Network, a cooperative agreement between the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast New England Program and the New England Environmental Finance Center, and the Lookout Foundation. The curriculum was developed by SNEP Network Partners Mass Audubon, Cape Cod Commission, the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District, and the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative in partnership with Mass Rivers Alliance and the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative. 

To learn more and view the 8 module curriculum, visit Mass River’s Alliance website. 

Is Your Community Climate Resilient? Bylaws and Best Practices: How-to Training

The SNEP Network has held bylaw review workshops in Worcester, MA (6/24/2022) and Middleborough, MA (10/27/2022).  This training was developed and delivered by: Mass Audubon, Blackstone Watershed Collaborative, Cape Cod Commission, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), Mass Rivers Alliance, Mass DEP, and EPA Region I.

Workshop Description:
Local land use rules that support nature-based solutions to climate change have many benefits, including reduced flood risks, protection of water quality and supplies, reduced costs of road and stormwater maintenance, open space protection, and preserving community character. Outdated bylaws and regulations can prevent communities from implementing these win-win solutions. Learn how to use a Bylaw Review Tool that can help you give your community’s land use regulations a tune-up to ensure they support cost-effective best practices.   


  • Is Your Community Climate Resilient? Bylaws and Best Practices: Learn how Mass Audubon’s Bylaw Review Tool can help guide your community’s land use regulations to ensure they support cost-effective best practices. We’ll help you identify priorities for local action, share successful examples, and provide resources to support implementation.



Saving Land, Water, and Money With Smart Local Land Use Regulations: Adopting nature-based and low impact development solutions can help effectively manage stormwater while conserving land, protecting water quality, and reducing maintenance costs. Learn how Mass Audubon’s Bylaw Review Tool can help you give your community’s land use regulations a tune-up to ensure they encourage the most innovative and effective approaches. The program will also share a case study from Devens, a community where LID has been fully embraced across all planning and regulations


Building the Case for Green Infrastructure The Value of Nature: Nature provides us with many services, from wildlife habitat to recreation opportunities. But beyond its intrinsic value, nature also provides measurable benefits to humans in the form of nature-based solutions to some of our most pressing environmental problems, including climate change. In this webinar, Mass Audubon will present a case for green infrastructure focused on the financial and health benefits of natural areas.