LWVMA Info on Women’s March in Boston

LWVMA will be supporting the Women’s March in Boston on January 21, 2017.  The events start at 11 am on the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets on the Boston Common, with the actual march expected to start around noon.  Visit bostonwomensmarchforamerica.org for more information on the event.

We’ll keep our website updated with news from LWVMA, including a planned meeting spot for those wishing to attend the march with other League members from around the state.  We’ll also email you later this week with information about taking the T together from Newton or any other transportation information. Please email info@lwvnewton.org for more information.

LWVN Joins in to Support Washington Place

The following letter was sent by Livable Newton on behalf of many local individuals and organizations, including LWVN.

January 11, 2017

Newton City Council
Newton Planning and Development Board 1000 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA 02459

Dear City Councilors and Planning Board members:

Livable Newton strongly supports the Washington Place development. It is consistent with the Newton Comprehensive Plan and with our own mission and goals. We wholeheartedly support rezoning the site for Mixed Use 4—an option created in 2012 for just such a project and location—and urge you to grant the necessary special permit, so that more current and future residents may live, work, and play here.

We are committed to promoting housing diversity and affordability in Newton, where choices are few and beyond the reach of many who want to keep or find a home. We appreciate that, of the 25% of Washington Place units affordable in perpetuity, two-fifths will be reserved for households in the middle-income range (80–120% AMI), just beyond eligibility for affordable housing by state definition but still not enough to cover current market rents. We hope preference is given to Newton residents for the affordable units, to the extent allowed by fair housing laws.

This multi-level approach to creating affordable housing is something we hope other developers will pursue in future projects. It will enable more current members of our community, such as teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and other city employees, to live in Newton. It will also make convenient, one-floor, accessible living available to more residents across a range of incomes and ability levels. This is especially critical for seniors.

We commend the inclusion of six three-bedroom units, which addresses a need often ignored by developers. This will give families with children and those who want to downsize additional housing opportunities in Newtonville’s commercial center.

 

Regarding the design, we appreciate the variation in sidewalk widths, building heights, step-backs, and façades, which help create a sense of place and are respectful of the adjacent historic district. We are pleased to see increased greenery in the final design, including rooftop and vertical gardens.

We also appreciate the steps the developer has taken to make this a “green” project: pursuing LEED Gold certification, decoupling rents from parking, offering to subsidize MBTA passes for tenants, including Zip Car spaces and adequate short- and long-term bicycle accommodations, widening sidewalks and reconfiguring the Washington–Walnut intersection to make it more walkable and safe. We think the developer could go even further in this direction, however, by including rooftop solar panels, charging a premium for a second parking space, and subsidizing Zip Car membership.

Washington Place is the kind of development that strengthens village vitality and supports public transportation. It will help make Newton more inclusive, integrated, and sustainable. We urge you to approve both the zone change and the special permit.

Sincerely,

Marcia Johnson
on behalf of Livable Newton

Cc: Mayor Setti Warren Barney Heath

Alexandra Ananth
Rachel Powers
David Olson
Robert Korff
Stephen Buchbinder Andy Levin, Newton TAB

Livable Newton

Mission: We are a coalition of Newton organizations and individuals who advocate for planning and development that makes our city more inclusive, integrated, healthy, and sustainable.

Vision: We want a Newton where anyone can find a safe, affordable home in a walkable neighborhood close to public transportation, schools, shops, services, and recreational open space.

Origins: We first came together as Friends of Austin Street, which we all understood to be a model of modern, sustainable, mixed-use development, and something worth fighting for. Newton needs to be able to grow and evolve, even as we try to conserve our natural and communal resources. Thoughtful planning and development is how this should happen. Austin Street was a great example. We hope it was just a start.

Charter Commission Meeting Notes Available!

Observer notes from the most recent Charter Commission meeting are now available on the LWVN website by clicking here:  Charter Commission Observer Notes.

The Charter Commission is beginning to write up their recommendations and conclusions in preparation for the next step in the process.  After a very thorough, lengthy review that began in November of 2015, the Charter Commission will submit a preliminary report to the State Attorney General’s office in March.  There will be a public hearing on the preliminary report, scheduled for March 15th.  We’ll keep you updated on the news and events, and you can check out all the Charter Commission info on the League website.

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