|Welcome to my May update, which is coming in just under the wire. I hope you had a terrific Memorial Day weekend. I enjoyed seeing many familiar faces at the Memorial Day parade, and participating in the city’s wreath-laying ceremony last Sunday, to commemorate our fallen heroes.
Here are some other items of note for Newtonville and beyond:
The mayor has chosen a developer for the Austin Street parking lot project.
On May 15 a public hearing was held regarding a citizen petition to change the zoning of the Austin Street lot. The lot is currently zoned Mixed Use 4, which sets a height limit of 60 feet or 5 stories. The petition calls for it to be changed to Public Use or Business 1 which sets a limit of 3 stories, among other restrictions. The Zoning & Planning Committee will be discussing this item tonight at 7:45PM in City Hall Room 202.
- This is the proposal offered by the chosen developer. This is the short presentation by the developer about their proposal.
- This is the summary of the evaluators comments about the proposal.
- And here is the City website about the Austin St project where these and additional documents are posted.
I have submitted a resolution to my colleagues on the Board of Aldermen asking them to join me in calling on the mayor to limit the size and scale of the final project to three stories or less, 40 housing units or less, with sufficient parking for current and future uses. The Real Property Reuse Committee voted down my resolution 6-1 last night, and it will go to the full Board for a vote on June 2.
Lastly, a parking study commissioned by the City is expected to be released any day. According to the RFQ a first draft was due April 1.
Medical Marijuana Dispensary
A community meeting was held April 17 and two more meetings are planned.
The City Planning Department is putting together a page for the city website with more details on the proposed dispensary, I will forward that out when it’s available.
- Tomorrow (Thursday May 29) at 7:30PM in Room 202 of City Hall: community meeting
- Tues June 17 at 7pm in the aldermanic chamber at City Hall: special permit hearing before the Land Use Committee
My Ward 7 colleague Alderman Ruthanne Fuller has released a primer on Newton’s OPEB liability, and it is sobering reading. OPEB stands for “Other post retirement benefits” and it refers to retiree health care benefits. In short Newton owes over $600M in the form of retiree health care benefits to current and former employees, but has not set that amount of money aside for them. We should be setting aside over $30M per year to cover this gap; at this time the OPEB trust fund has just under $1M in it.
The Board of Aldermen is considering easing some of the restrictions on accessory apartments. At this time it is legal to create an accessory apartment (think in-law unit) in your home but there are certain hurdles that must be crossed. The Board is looking to reduce one of those hurdles, by reducing the minimum size of an accessory apartment from 400 sq feet to 250 sq feet. I am interested in making it easier for those who would like to build an accessory apartment to do so, as it can provide extra income to an older person wanting to stay in their home, as well as increase the supply of affordable housing in Newton without relying on high density housing complexes.
My Almost-Summer Fundraiser
I'm kicking off the start to summer with a fun house party... to ensure that my next campaign is as successful as my last one! Here is the link, hope to see you there!
The Cabot Fair takes place this Sat., May 31 from 10am-4pm at Cabot Park. There will also be a Recycling Fundraiser taking place at that time, click here for a list of items to be accepted.
Cabot School no longer a polling location
Ward 2 precinct 2 voters will have a new polling location starting this fall. Instead of voting at Cabot School, you will be voting at Cabot Park Village at 280 Newtonville Ave.
Leaf-blower free Landscaping
Green Decade is compiling a list of landscaping companies that will keep your lawn and yard looking trim without the use of loud & polluting gas-powered leaf-blowers. I will share the list when it's published.
I will be at my regular spot in the Senior Center this Friday May 30 from 9-10AM. Come on by!