ZONING REDESIGN

The city council’s Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP) is working on proposals to rezone the entire city.  One idea that appears to have strong support in the committee is to increase housing density in Newton by ELIMINATING SINGLE-FAMILY zones.  This could have an enormous impact on Newton.

City Councilor Emily Norton had a lot to say about the rezoning proposals in her September newsletter including the following:

  • If you are feeling confused about what is being proposed, you are not alone; Councilor Lisle Baker stated in his Sept. 9, 2020 memo, “This the most complex legislative matter I can recall since I began serving on the City Council in 1980, including the last zoning redesign in 1988.” Among several useful comments, he urges the Planning Department to not undertake a massive rewrite of our zoning code at a time when residents are distracted by Covid, but rather to focus on smaller and less controversial changes, such as lowering barriers to new housing in or near village centers.
  • The Sept. 11, memo from Councilor Alicia Bowman lists many questions I am also thinking about, such as the fairness of expanding by-right multi-unit zoning only to certain areas of the city, and whether we should allow accessory apartments by right in detached units such as garages and carriage houses.
  • The Sept. 10, memo from Councilor Pam Wright expresses strong concern that the new zoning code may result in the opposite of our goals: “I believe version 3 as written will just bring in more luxury housing with an accelerant rate of tear downs AND, for some smaller lots, even larger homes than that can be built today.” She also includes an exhaustive list of concerns in a helpful chart format.

Zoning is a complicated subject that can be easily frustrating.  Pam Wright has prepared an orientation to the zoning redesign process–password is %7*hsQ%9.

City Councilor Marc Laredo’s August newsletter on this topic is also very helpful and full of information.

Recent ZAP hearings can be viewed on NEW-TV or on the ZAP web site.

Public documents on zoning redesign can be found here.