Is it possible to create a buffer polygon using an attribute field which is in different units than the feature class coordinate system?

Example: I have a field that stores distances in miles (double data type) and the feature class is in state plane (units are feet).

Is there a way to do this?

I'm using Esri ArcGIS 10.2.

  • Either calculate a new field or do the conversion in your head and buffer accordingly
    – user681
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:20
  • I'd like to avoid a new field and the values are not the same for every feature, so I can't make a blanket buffer on every feature.
    – boyle.matt
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:22
  • Does that mean that the buffer units differ for each feature?
    – user681
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:25
  • @boyle.matt - use SQL Spatial!!! Jun 19, 2014 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


It's not possible to specify which units the buffer distance field should use when running the tool, but it is possible to specify the units in the field itself.

From the ESRI docs:

If a field from the Input Features is used to obtain buffer distances, the field's values can be either a number (5) or a number with a valid linear unit (5 Kilometers). If a field value is simply a number, it is assumed that the distance is in the linear unit of the Input Features' spatial reference (unless the Input Features are in a geographic coordinate system, in which case, the value is assumed to be in meters). If the linear unit specified in the field values is invalid or not recognized, the linear unit of the input features' spatial reference will be used by default.

You would have to add a new text field and calculate it's value to 'N Miles.'

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