There is huge dispute about whether the current project plan is appropriate. A referendum on March 3 will allow all voters across Newton to determine whether the current plan will prevail or whether it must be revised to make it more compatible with the needs of residents.
A “NO” vote would overrule the City Council and cancel the zoning change. A “YES” vote would approve the City Council’s decision and the project would go forward.
Vote NO on the referendum.
What’s At Stake
Our city council has approved an enormous development plan despite vocal neighborhood opposition. Other major development proposals are sure to follow in other locations.
Northland and its benefits are being oversold. Many councilors, and others, too easily accept the claims of developers that they, the developers, will help us achieve our common goals. We have to push the council be tougher in the face of developers’ enticements.
Vote NO in order to create a better Northland project, and better city-wide development in the future.
The Big Issues
- Traffic will become worse with this project and others like it which are oversold as “transit-oriented.” The Northland site is not easily walkable to any MBTA stop and a proposed shuttle bus will not be enough. Public transit is a disaster in Massachusetts and significant change won’t be coming soon.
- Northland as a landlord has been at the center of a very disturbing drama in New Haven. Northland allowed a large subsidized housing complex there to deteriorate so badly (e.g. 48% of children developed asthma) that all the tenants had to be moved out and the buildings razed. What steps must the city take to ensure that Northland doesn’t treat its low-income (and maybe high income) tenants as badly here?
- Too much: The project is too big, too dense, and simply too much for the majority of Newtonians.
- We can do better: Other close-to-home projects show us that the Northland project could be smaller and better.
- Affordability and affluence: The plan calls for 20 units of “middle income” housing and 120 units for people below middle income. Total of 140 units. That’s great, but most of the project, 82.5%, would be expensive units. The project would move Newton toward even more affluence along with a small low-income population and little room for the middle class. We can do better.
- The fiscal impact of this project is likely to be neutral or negative at the same time that the city faces over a billion dollars of unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities.
To be sure, there are important features of the Northland plan that we can approve of – like high environmental building standards. But we could still have these positive things as part of a more modest plan.
Who We Are And What We Want
We say vote NO on the referendum because:
- We are FOR development. Everyone wants to see something good built at this site. But we need a size and scale that make that sense here.
- We are FOR diversity, including racial and economic diversity. And we are FOR environmental progress. RightSizing will make a better city for everybody, including newcomers of all types.
- We are FOR the rights of citizens to challenge massive changes to their city and neighborhoods that are likely to be detrimental to them.
- We are non-partisan, ecumenical, and proud to represent the RightSize position.
Vote NO on the March 3 referendum!
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