A research project funded by the U.S Department of Agriculture through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Community and Rural Development Institute at Cornell University. The goal of this project was to examine policies that focus on land use patterns, as well as mechanisms for preserving open space and achieving goals related to environmental protection and housing affordability. This goal was achieved by conducting a series of focus groups in communities throughout New York State in which development-related concerns were expressed by town supervisors, county planning commissioners, mayors, school district officials, developers, farmers, environmental advocates, housing affordability advocates and others. The research demonstrated that common ground exists among groups that are often perceived to be in conflict with each other. The research also identified processes and tools that have informed a program to guide communities through development decisions in ways that facilitate open discussion without polarizing disputes among various interest groups.