Sarah James & Associates

Sarah James operates a consulting service in city and town planning that provides a broad range of services in community development and planning to clients including cities and towns, public agencies, design and engineering firms, and non-profit organizations. She specializes in community-based, participatory planning strategies for development that is sustainable and growth that is appropriate. James offers a systems approach to planning that integrates meeting human and community needs, using resources efficiently and fairly, and protecting the ecosystems of Nature.

Planning services include:

Comprehensive & strategic planning
Sustainable community planning & education
Community participatory planning & visioning
Growth management strategies
Community charrette design and facilitation

Sarah James assembles teams whose skills match the particular needs of each project. This business strategy enables her to offer clients direct principal participation in the project, at the same time, keeping overhead costs – and hence billing rates – at reasonable and competitive prices. She associates with firms that provide related services in zoning reviews and revisions, land use and impact analyses, build-out studies, open space and recreation planning, environmental studies, and innovative traffic and transportation solutions. She also provides planning and development services on a subcontracting basis for consultant teams assembled for larger projects.

Sarah James serves clients in both urban and rural environments. She has worked in states including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, New York, Connecticut, Michigan, Iowa, Washington, D.C., and California, and internationally in Canada, Sweden, and Mexico. Clients Include

Client Cities and Towns:

Town of Rochester, MA
Town of Charlestown, NH
Town of Bellingham, MA
Town of Londonderry, NH
Town of Great Barrington, MA
Town of Mashpee, MA
City of Concord, NH
Town of Westport, MA
Town of Westwood, MA *
Town of Uxbridge, MA
City of Gloucester, MA
Town of Hamilton, MA
Town of Hanson, MA
Town of Chatham, MA
Town of Wolfeboro, NH
Town of Peterborough, NH
Town of Lyme, NH
City of Redding, CA
Town of Shelter Island, NY *
City of Somersworth, NH
Town of Derry, NH
Town of Ossipee, NH
Town of Tamworth, NH
Towns of Albany & Madison, NH
Town of Allagash, ME
Town of Fort Fairfield, ME
City of Chelsea, MA
City of Portsmouth, NH
Town of Hanover, NH
Town of Lancaster, MA


Sullivan County Economic Development Council, NH *
Boston Redevelopment Authority
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, Washington, DC
Massachusetts Housing Partnership
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority *
Massachusetts Division of Capital Planning & Operations *
Boston Housing Authority
Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare *
Federal Emergency Management Agency
New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority *
Lakes Region Planning Commission, NH
Rockingham County Planning Commission
New Hampshire Department of Transportation
Martha’s Vineyard Commission
Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL), Mexico *
World Bank
U.S. Embassy, Stockholm

Private Firms & Institutions:

New Hampshire Business Sales, Concord, NH
Dartmouth Mary Hitchcock Hospital, Hanover, NH
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Real Estate Enterprises, Inc., Boston, MA
David Dixon & Associates, Boston, MA *
Philip B. Herr & Associates, Newton, MA
Stockard, Engler, & Brigham, Inc.
Applied Economic Research, Inc.
South Mountain Company

Non-Profit Organizations:

National League of Cities
National Economic Development & Law Center, Berkeley, CA *
Old West End Housing Corporation, Boston, MA
North End/Waterfront Community Development Corporation, Boston
Newmarket Community Development Corporation, Newmarket, NH
Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Boston, MA *
Quincy-Geneva Development Corporation, Roxbury, MA *
Madison Park Development Corporation, Roxbury, MA *
Fort Hill Tenants’ Association, Roxbury, MA *
Science Center of New Hampshire
Detroit Community Development Funders Collaborative *

Planning Projects Include:

Innovative land use and transportation corridor management for a major state highway
Build-out analysis and growth management strategies for a rural town.
Fiscal impact analysis for industrial development in a rural community.
Growth management plan for a Berkshire town.
Participatory planning facilitation for a city master plan.
Participatory planning and design team coordination for a land use plan “charrette”.
Zoning bylaws re: business development, river front protection, and flexible residential development for a waterfront community.
Downtown redevelopment planning & economic development strategy for a rapidly growing southern New Hampshire town.
Comprehensive planning process for an island community.*
Zoning analyses re: innovative by-law strategies for non-residential development in 12 rural towns.
Expert witness testimony re: zoning techniques for resource protection.
Floodplain management ordinance administration training & education in a post-flood recovery project.
Erosion management plan for an historically significant recreation trail.
Downtown growth & redevelopment strategy for a New Hampshire town.
Development of Ch.774 comprehensive permit review procedures for zoning board of appeals & local housing partnership.
Development of alternatives for flexible zoning by-law; growth management strategies, & public education re: zoning alternatives in a growing rural town.
Town-wide land use analysis to identify needed zoning by-law revisions.
Affordable housing/growth management plan & strategies for a Cape Cod community.
Community planning process to generate re-use alternatives for an MBTA-owned property.*
Site analysis for a municipal land parcel, involving soils analysis, perimeter survey, identification of development constraints, site planning alternatives, financial feasibility analysis.

* Subcontractor to prime contractor

Development Projects Include

Preparation of developers’ kit for disposition of municipally-owned land.
Market study of five Boston neighborhoods for special needs housing.
Residential market & feasibility analysis for rehabilitation of school building for a Homeownership Opportunity (HOP) development.
Site assessments for special needs housing development.
Market analysis for proposed country inn/conference center.
Market analysis for a restaurant facility.
Market analysis & marketing strategies for a 270,000 s.f. downtown shopping mall.
Packaging for commercial redevelopment of a downtown mill building as office space.
Feasibility analysis for redevelopment of former power station building.*
Market & feasibility analysis for residential re-use alternative for a former armory building in preparation for developers’ kit.*
Preparation of mortgage increase applications for submission to the Mass. Housing Finance Agency. *
Fiscal impact analysis of non-residential development.
Development of a public waterfront park.
Review & evaluations of housing development loan applications. *
Town-wide absorption study of subdivision lots. *
Retail space & office space surveys for income property appraisals.*
Training of community development corporation board re: housing cooperative structure and affordable housing development & ownership alternatives.
Business development and tax classification study for a suburban community.

* Subcontractor to prime contractor.

Organizational Development, Program Evaluations

Organizational assessments for community development corporations on behalf of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Detroit Community Development Funders Collaborative*
Strategic plan for a national economic development law center*
Site evaluations for elderly congregate housing national demonstration program*
Site evaluations for national juvenile justice program
Start-up assistance for two Boston community-based development organizations.
Development of case study training materials for community development corporation educational workshops


Co-Author, The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities & Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices, New Society Publishers, 2004.

Author, “GreenZone: Big Business Pilots Green Development”, Urban Land, Summer, 2005.

Author, “Moving Toward Sustainability in Planning & Zoning”, Planning Commissioners Journal, Summer, 2002.
Author, “Eco-Cities: the Next Swedish Export”, Planning Magazine, May, 2002.
Author, “Charting a Course to a Livable Future”; “Sustainable Development: The Future is Already Here”, The Cape Codder Newspaper, December 7, 2001, January 25, 2002.
Author, “Swedish Eco-Municipalities Point the Way to Our Future”, The Granite State Planner, Fall, 2001.

Co-Author, “Planning for Sustainability Policy Guide”, American Planning Association, April, 2000.

Author, “Sustainable Development: What’s Happening In New England”, Parts I and II, The Yankee Planner, Winter & Spring Issues, 1997.

Author, “Sustainable Development: Looking at Familiar Issues Through a New Lens”, New England Planning, November, 1996.

Author, “Safeguarding Your Historic Site”, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Boston, MA & Washington, DC. June, 1993.

Co-Author, “Gambling with Community Character”, New England Planning, Spring, 1993; Inherit New Hampshire Newsletter, Summer, 1993.

Author, “1993 Guide to Services and Financial Assistance”, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, Washington, DC, August, 1992.

Co-Author, “Hazard Mitigation Opportunities for the Cliff Walk, Newport, RI”, Federal Emergency Management Agency, March, 1992.

Author, “Encouraging Small Business Development While Preserving Rural Character”, Massachusetts Land Use Forum, September, 1990.

Author, “The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: A Guide to Its Services & Resources”, Washington, DC, January, 1989.

Author, “A Handbook for Local Housing Partnerships”, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, June, 1988.

Author, “A Guide to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership”, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, June, 1987.

Co-Author, “Experience in the Section 8 Existing Housing Program: FY75-76”, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC, September, 1977.

Co-Author, “Adoption of an Innovation: Local Housing Authority Participation in Section 8”, The Urban Institute, Wash., DC, April, 1977.

Major Presentations


Sustainability principles and their application in municipal planning and community development:

New England:
            2008-9     Town of Hanover, NH ecomunicipality training for community, staff, officials.
2006:       Massachusetts Climate Action Network Global Warming Conference, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA.;
Tufts University sustainability planning class.
2005-6:     Portsmouth, NH eco-municipality workshops for local officials, board members, department heads, citizens
2006-8:    Tufts University Eco-municipality leadership training
Burlington, Vermont: Sustainable Communities Conference.
2003:       BuildBoston; M.I.T. Sustainable Development Forum; Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Rhode Island School of Design.
2002:       Boston Society of Architects Women in Design Roundtable, Massachusetts; Municipal Association Annual Conference;
New Hampshire Planning Conference; New Hampshire Office of State Planning;

BuildBoston, American Planning Association Region I Conference; Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rhode Island School of Design .

2001:       Eco-Industrial Project Roundtable Conference; Sustainable Step New England Quarterly Meeting;
Workshop for the New England Planning Conference; Workshop for Pioneer Valley Planning Commission   Franklin County Community Development Corporation
New England Solar Energy Annual Conference
Town of Lexington workshop

2000-01   Rhode Island School Of Design
MIT Sustainable Development Forum
New England Enviro-Expo. 2000
City of Somerville workshop

1999:       Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association Annual Conference;
New England Enviro-Expo
Cape Cod Center for Sustainability Annual Meeting.

1998:       BuildBoston.

1997:       Sirius Community Conference; Central Square Community Forum; Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors Annual Conference.


                2007        Sustainable Northern Shelter Conference, Fairbanks, Alaska

2006:       Tucson, AZ; San Diego, CA; University of CA at San Diego; Los Angeles, City of Berkeley; City of San Francisco; Sacramento: eco-municipality presentations

2005-6:   Lawrence Township, NJ: eco-municipality presentation & workshop for local officials & municipal staff, citizens

Chequamegon Bay, WI region: workshops for local officials, citizens, tribal nation members

2004:      Washington, DC: American Planning Association Annual Conference workshop; Philadelphia, PA: Sustainable Business
Network speaker series; Minneapolis, MN: Eco-municipality Workshop, Living Green Expo; Madison, WI: SustaineDane
Eco-municipality Workshop; Pittsburgh, PA: Sustainable Pittsburgh speaker series; Vandergrift, PA: Eco-municipality Workshop; Boston, MA: Tufts University Eco-municipality Workshop.

2003:      Dallas, TX: Sustainable Dallas Annual Conference.

2000:      Spokane, WA: Housing Washington Annual Conference

New York, NY, American Planning Association National Conference.

1999:      Poughkeepsie, NY:Vassar College

Seattle, WA: American Planning Association Annual Conference



2009        Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL), Mexico City, Mexico
2008:       City of Dublin, Ireland

2006:       Karlskrona, Sweden: Blekinge Institute of Technology Sustainability Leadership Masters Program

Stockholm, Sweden: National Association of Swedish Eco-municipalities

Robertsfors, Sweden: Sustainable Robertsfors

2005:       Calgary, Canada: Canadian Association of Planners

Edmonton, Canada: Alberta Association of Urban Municipalities

Canmore, Canada



Fundamentals of planning process

                2002 & 2003:     Citizen Planner Education Collaborative: “Making Plans That Work, various Massachusetts locations.

2000:       Northern New England Chapter of American Planning Association (NNECAPA) Annual Conference, “Charrettes as a Tool for Community Change”.

1998:       Route 16 Planning Committee and NH Dept. of Transportation: “Corridor Land Use Management Strategies: New Hampshire’s Route 16”.

1996:       New Hampshire Planners Association Annual Meeting, “Charrettes as a Participatory Planning Tool”.

1995:       New Hampshire Planners Association Annual Meeting, “Living Master Plans”.

1993        University of New Hampshire, “Private Property Rights and the Public Good: Seeking the Balance in Land Use Planning”.

1993:       American Planning Association Workshops, “Planning in the Face of Conflict,” Boston, Manchester NH, West Springfield.



1996:       Lakes Region (NH) Planning Commission Community Zoning Workshop, “Home Occupation Regulations”.
1994:       NH Conference for Planning Boards, “Regulating Home Occupations Through Performance Standards”.


1995:       (Portland, ME) National Association of Floodplain Managers Annual Conference, “Housing Relocation & Flood Recovery in Fort Fairfield, Maine”.

1995:       (West Springfield, MA) Federal Emergency Management Agency Staff Training, “Housing Relocation: Disaster Recovery in Fort Fairfield, Maine”.


1994:       New Hampshire Conference for Planning Boards, “Saving New Hampshire Place”.

1993:       Danbury & Andover (NH) Planning Boards, “Saving New Hampshire Place”.

1993:       Massachusetts Federation of Planning & Zoning Officials, “Massachusetts Place” (preserving community character).

1992:       Massachusetts Federation of Planning & Zoning Officials, “How Your Zoning Bylaws Can Protect Community Character”.

1990:       Inherit New Hampshire Annual Town Meeting, “Preserving the New Hampshire Countryside”.

1990:       Harris Center for Education, “Protecting Community Character” (Harrisville, NH).


Co-Speaker with Philip Herr:


SHUTESBURY, MA, Summer, 1996, Sirius Community, “Community Participatory Planning: Examples and Techniques”.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, Winter, 1996 & 1995, MIT Professional Development Series, “The Art of Swamp Yankee Planning”.

VARIOUS MASSACHUSETTS LOCATIONS, 1992: Massachusetts Section, American Planning Association, Comprehensive Planning Workshops. Both assisted in design of the series, preparation of materials, and presentations.

DURHAM, NH, Spring, 1992: University of New Hampshire, “Townscape Planning and Tradition”.

MARLBOROUGH, MA, Fall 1991: Massachusetts Federation of Planning & Zoning Officials, “Does Your Zoning Need an Overhaul?”.

CONCORD, NH, Fall 1990: Inherit New Hampshire, “Preserving and Developing the Countryside”.

SOUTHBOROUGH, MA, Fall 1990: Massachusetts Section, American Planning Association, “Economic Development: What Role for Planners?”, and “Community Participatory Planning Models”.