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image of planning tools, blueprints, office suppliesThe Westchester 2025 Web site grew from a tool chest of maps and data. These resources will influence the design of future growth and serve as the basis of discussion between the county and municipality planning boards.

Here are the tools you will come across as you discover the municipalities and centers of Westchester.

Aerial Maps
Aerial maps let planners get a true bird's eye view of a town's layout. Before the introduction of Google Earth and other online aerial mapping applications, the only way to create an aerial map was to physically get a camera into the air.  Today with satellites roaming above us, aerial mapping is inexpensive and readily available to the person sitting behind a computer or holding a mobile device.

Aerial maps allow planners to see the juxtaposition of open spaces, woodlands, industrial complexes, residential areas and commercial zones and how one may be affecting another. They can provide insights to problems that need to be solved, but that being at ground level cannot clarify.

Base Maps
Base maps contain basic, visible surface features and boundaries upon which other data may be plotted.

They are also called outline maps because the most prominent feature is the outline of the country's political boundaries, such as the boundaries of a city, county, state, country or region. Base maps can be thought of as the "control" map from which other maps in a geographic information system are developed.

Base maps provide the essential outline of an area to which planners can add or subtract elements as they plan for future development, such as potential sites for building schools or the hopes of maintaing wooded areas.

Demographics
Community demographics and their trends are another tool that local planners use in shaping the community's future land use development.

Demographics represent the characteristics of a population. Age, gender, income, ethnicity, education, mobility and other facets that describe the population are used as a guide to forecast and shape its future needs. As these characteristics change over time, so too will the kinds of services required by the population, such as new schools, additional hospitals, assisted living communities, upgraded highways, etc.

Draft Build-Out Analysis
A draft build-out analysis is a useful tool that help planners look into the future. Build-out analysis is created from existing data and conditions and basic assumptions on a lot-by-lot or area-by-area basis. The analysis allows planners to estimate the future number of existing and developable dwelling units for a specified area.

The variables applied in the analysis allow planners to consider different land use development scenarios. Such variables as population, existing housing, highway use, etc. can all alter the given direction of future development.  Being able to review these scenarios is very useful to planners and local governments as they discuss the community's future.

Land Use Maps
Land-use maps show how we use our land in terms of roadways, housing, waterways, industry, transportation, open spaces, protected natural areas and other identifiable uses. Land-use maps can serve as snapshots in time or benchmarks for planners as they undertake assessing future needs and alternative uses of an area.

Zoning Maps
A zoning map shows the various zoning districts within a political boundry. These districts are determined and defined by a given locality based on what acitivities are going on in those districts. The zoning map is generally based on these definitions and will show the number of districts into which the locality is divided along with the status and usage of each.

Land-use planners, as well as others living in the locality, rely on zoning maps when making land-use decisions. While planners provide the vision for future development, zoning regulations are what ultimately control that development.