Newton's current zoning ordinance—the rules governing development and renovation—has not been substantially updated since the 1950s. It stands in the way of our ability to respond effectively to enormous and persistent challenges: the housing shortage, residential segregation, climate change. It severely limits the number and kind of new homes we can build, and where they can be built, reinforcing old patterns of segregation and shutting many people out entirely. It prevents us from making the most of our village centers and public transit resources. It constrains our economy and our environmental sustainability.
The Zoning and Planning Committee of the Newton City Council (ZAP), together with the Planning Department, is now engaged in the hard and complicated work of re-writing our zoning ordinance for the modern age, a process the City is calling Zoning Redesign.
We believe our new zoning ordinance should enable us to significantly increase our housing opportunities—in number and kind, for all sorts of people, all across the city—and improve our response to climate change. Adding more homes, especially within walking distance of village centers and railway stops, will help revitalize areas that made Newton a desirable place to live well before the advent of zoning (1922) and the predominance of transit by automobile.
On Dec. 2, 2020, the Planning Department kicked off a new community engagement effort with a presentation titled "Zoning Redesign: Where We Are Now," which we think was excellent—recording here, slides here.
Share your questions and thoughts with Planning by completing this survey—first watch the presentation, if you missed it. Survey closes end of day, Sun., Jan. 10, 2021.
Please pay attention to the ZAP discussions. Listen, learn—and speak up for a more inclusive and sustainable city. Your City Councilors need to hear from you!
Attend ZAP meetings—dates, agendas, reports here.
Talk to your City Councilors—contact info here.
Send emails to City Council, Mayor, and Planning Department—click here to start, and paste the following into the cc line: , , , , .
If you don't mind, please also blind-copy us: .
Eventually there will be public hearings. Stay tuned!
For more about our hopes for the new zoning ordinance, click on the green links below.
Re: Priorities, goals
Engine 6 email (5/15/20) to ZAP
Re: Reframing the discussion
Engine 6 email (6/3/20) to Mayor Fuller
Re: Zoning Redesign as path to fairer housing, racial justice
Engine 6 email (6/15/20) to Mayor Fuller
Re: Zoning Redesign and Black lives
Engine 6 email (8/23/20) to ZAP
Re: Thanks for hard work, new direction
Engine 6 email (8/30/20) to City Council
Re: Zoning and affordability
Livable Newton letter (10/1/20) to Mayor and ZAP
Re: Support for NHP letter
Re: Going Forward Plan (changes to schedule)
Engine 6 email (3/3/21) to ZAP
Onward! (straw votes for comprehensive reform + keeping all tools, now time to move on to zoning within walking distance of commercial centers and transit hubs)
Deborah Crossley, Chair
Victoria Danberg, Vice Chair
Other members: Susan Albright, Lisle Baker, Joshua Krintzman, Alison Leary, Holly Ryan, Pamela Wright
Clerk: Danielle Delaney
Barney Heath, Director
Jennifer Caira, Deputy Director
Zachery LeMel, Long Range Planner
Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler, Community
Peter Doeringer, Chair
Lizbeth Heyer, Chair
Ted Hess-Mahan, Chair
The image in this page's background is a screen shot of the federal Home Owners' Loan Corporation map for Newton and areas east toward Boston, from the interactive website Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, a collaboration spearheaded by the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab.