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The achievement of an optimal allocation of rural lands between agricultural and nonagricultural uses requires attention to the suitability of the land for both uses. A complete study of land use would include a cataloguing and classification of those factors or conditions that make rural land suitable for agricultural and nonagricultural uses, with special attention to differentiation between the two, and an identification and classification of the rural areas suitable for rural residential development.

The principal objective of this study is to develop an index or classification scheme of those factors and conditions that determine the suitability of rural land for residential use. Such an index could assist those responsible for developing public policy or programs involving land development and for maintaining oversight of current land development in areas that are both rural in nature and in close proximity to urbanized areas. The index could also be the basis for developing an inventory of prime residential sites in rural areas.