|Happy Summer! Here are a few items of interest in Newtonville and beyond:
As I reported in my May newsletter, the mayor has chosen a developer for the Austin Street parking lot project.
There is a community meeting tomorrow (Tues June 24) starting at 8PM in the Newton North High School cafeteria. The developer and Mayor Warren will be present, as well as additional city staff.
I submitted a resolution 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 resolution was voted down June 2 by the Board of Aldermen 15-8 (with one absence), but during the discussion it was clear that many aldermen agree with the intent of limiting the size and scale of the development. To be approved, the final project will require 16 affirmative votes from the full Board.
Lastly, the parking study commissioned by the City has still not been released. According to the RFQ a first draft was due April 1.
Newton’s Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on the proposed 36-unit 40B project for Court Street in Newtonville on Thursday, June 26th at 7:00 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chamber. If you are unable to attend, written comments may be submitted to Diane Vezeau at firstname.lastname@example.org. The three Ward 2 Aldermen submitted a letter in February calling for the project to be reduced in size and scale (see pp 33-34).
Medical Marijuana Dispensary
A public hearing was held on June 17 regarding the proposed medical marijuana dispensary for 697 Washington Street in Newtonville. The Newtonville Area Council has posted notes from the earlier April meeting here. Newton's Planning Department has posted more details here.
Moratorium on Demolitions; Housing Production Plan
Ward 4 At-Large Alderman Amy Sangiolo has docketed two timely items to be taken up in tonight’s Zoning and Planning Committee meeting which begins at 7:45 in Room 202 of City Hall:
- One year moratorium on the demolition of single- and two-family homes;
- a Housing Production Plan (HPP) to be created.
Under Massachusetts’ Chapter 40B law, in municipalities where less than 10% of the housing qualifies as affordable, developers can bypass zoning laws as long as 20-25% of the units they build are affordable for those earning 80% of the area median income. (Newton is at 8.5% and therefore is subject to 40B, which is how the Court Street project is allowable, as well as several other 40B projects planned for Newton) However under Department of Housing & Community Development regulations, if a city/town can demonstrate they have a plan to increase the production of affordable housing, they can avoid being subject to 40B projects: it puts the city in charge of where and how affordable housing is built. The Newton Planning Department has compiled a helpful memo on HPPs here, starting on page 31.
The Newtonville listserve is growing! Let me know if you would like to be added to it. It is an easy way to communicate with neighbors about matters big (ie development) and small (ie garage sales, dentist recommendations, etc)
Runner’s World Race
The Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival was held two weeks ago and many residents were inconvenienced by the road closures. I heard from many residents who literally could not get to their destinations on the other side of Commonwealth Ave that day. Mayor Warren’s office sent out a notice saying “We are working to evaluate the problems that were caused and put into place guidelines to ensure that better planning and communication will be implemented in the future.” I plan to work with his office to ensure that happens.
Recycling Sticker Project
Green Decade Newton, in collaboration with Newton’s Dept. of Public Works, is seeking volunteers to walk in pairs to place “recycling education stickers” on all residential green bins. The “Recycle Sticker Project” will help remind everyone of what may or may not be placed in our green bins. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and want to help increase participation in Newton’s recycling program, please sign-up here.
Electric Vehicle Rebates
This is not just about Newton, but Newtonites can benefit. Massachusetts drivers may now apply for rebates of up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of new electric vehicles. EVs have no tailpipe emissions and release 64% fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They are also price-competitive with conventional vehicles, and super fun to drive. Visit www.mor-ev.org for more details.
I will be at my regular spot in the Senior Center this Friday, June 27 from 9-10AM. I hope to see you!