I have a university assignment that requires me to find an optimum location for a land fill site. There are various parameters I need to map. I have managed to map all the ones within a distance of something (using buffering and overlay techniques as in the image), but I have no clue how to define an area outside of a point. I need to define areas 20 miles outside of any major urban area, 20 miles from a major water feature and 10 miles from any national parks. I have all the base information (urban area, water features, national parks) in layers. I have a full licence with all additional add on's at my disposal - I just don;t know which to use or how![enter image description here]1

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    Do you have the Spatial Analyst extension and/or an Advanced Desktop License? Most solutions will use tools in one or both of those categories, so it is important for you to tell us what you have available to you. Please edit your original question to provide that information. Feb 6, 2016 at 16:06
  • At the moment your map looks like it has quite a bit of information that is unrelated or only loosely related to your specific question about how to select features in one layer that are outside polygon features in another layer. Try thinking about using just two layers to answer that before complicating it with extra layers.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 7, 2016 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


There is a tool in the analysis toolbox called symmetrical difference that you could use. You would put all your buffers in one layer and your counties in another layer. Then the tool would tell you all the areas in the counties that don't intersect any of the buffers.


If I understand you right, you want the opposite of a buffer. Then first, you need a polygon of your area of interest (AOI), say the border of a state or something like that. Second you calculate your distance buffers which you could clip from the previous AOI polygon. That should give the "outside" of the buffers.

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