Newton Police Reform Task Force
On July 3, 2020, Mayor Fuller announced the formation of the Newton Police Reform Task Force charged with undertaking a holistic assessment of the Newton Police Department and making recommendations to the Mayor on the Newton Police Department’s strategic direction for the future. LWVN will be following the work of this Task Force until it submits its recommendations to the Mayor in February 2021.
The Task Force is chaired by Judge Sonja Spears. Information regarding all the Task Force Members and the Task Force’s Goals, Responsibilities and Timeline, can be found on the Newton Police Reform Task Force page of the City of Newton’s website.
The Task Force has completed their schedule of meetings and is preparing a recommendations report to present to the Mayor shortly.
An email address has been established to respond to any questions, comments, or input that Newton residents may have at NPRTaskForce@newtonma.gov. A member of the Task Force will respond to all inquiries received as timely as possible.
LWVN is endeavoring to have an observer at Task Force meetings open to the public. Review our Observer Notes of those meetings.
Zoning is the set of laws governing such things as the size and shape of buildings, additions and renovations, and what types of activities can take place in which buildings. The City of Newton’s Zoning Redesign project is a multi-year effort to update and rewrite Newton’s Zoning Ordinance.
The current zoning redesign efforts build off of many years of research, study, and engagement. The 2007 Comprehensive Plan recognized the constraints imposed by our zoning rules, which sometimes prove inflexible for homeowners looking to change their property and create hurdles for new development.
In 2011, the mayor and the Board of Alderman created a Zoning Reform Group (ZRG) charged with articulating a process and framework for revising Newton’s zoning ordinance to facilitate the vision in the adopted Comprehensive Plan. The Zoning Reform Group Report created by this group has provided guidance to the overall Zoning Redesign process. The ZRG recommended a three-phase process to develop a plan for reforming Newton’s zoning ordinance:
- Phase I – Reorganize and reformat the current Zoning Ordinance to make it easier to use, resolve confusing or contradictory passages, incorporate illustrations and tables
- Phase II – Comprehensively rewrite the Zoning Ordinance and revise the Zoning Map to address the themes within the ZRG report and to better implement the Comprehensive Plan
- Phase III – Review the new Zoning Ordinance after one year to consider how well it has worked and make coordinated adjustments leading to an ongoing process of regularly scheduled zoning maintenance
Since that time, the City has been slowly leading a comprehensive Zoning Redesign effort to achieve several goals. Most recently in April 2020, the City Council’s Zoning and Planning committee reasserted the primary goals of the Zoning Redesign:
- Housing: A zoning code more responsive to a demand for housing that serves a range of incomes; Promote sustainable community development patterns
- Sustainability: Environmental stewardship, fiscal strength and meeting community needs
- Context: Preserve and protect what we like in our neighborhoods; Encourage new development to fit in the context of our neighborhoods and villages.
City staff and the Zoning and Planning (ZAP) Committee Chair and Co-Chair have developed a process to efficiently work through the draft Zoning Ordinance to achieve the goal of full adoption by the end of the 2021 City Council term. The process focuses around ZAP and incorporates constant community engagement in various forms to both inform and guide the City along the way.
More information and regular updates about Zoning Redesign can be found at the Zoning Redesign page on the City’s website.
- The League Presents: The Zoning Redesign Process in Newton with Deb Crossley
- Topic Meeting: Zoning Reform Presented by Jay Walter
- Questions and Answers from Zoning Reform Presentation to be posted shortly
Redesign of City Seal
We see the Newton City seal on city letterhead, on recycling bins, and in the rotunda at City Hall. It shows Christian missionary John Eliot proselytizing to Waban and other native people in the 1640s. Why did city leaders choose this image for the seal in 1865? What does the image convey? Is the image and its message still appropriate? Is it time to reconsider the City seal?
The Mayor has convened an ad hoc working group to reconsider the city seal. Find information on the City Seal Working Group.
The City is looking for community input. You can provide input to the Working Group by :
Transparency in City Government
LWVN is actively engaging with members of the City Council and the City Council to determine how to best increase the transparency of the City Council.
NewCal – New Space Development for Seniors
On August 12, 2020, the Newton Center for Active Living (NewCAL) Working Group submitted a letter to Mayor Fuller formally recommending that the existing Senior Center site in Newtonville be the location for the new community center focusing on programs and services for Newton’s older residents. The Newton Council on Aging also unanimously voted to support moving forward at the Newtonville site and the Mayor affirmed the Working Group recommendation.
The project is now in the Feasibility Study Phase. The design team will be working with the Council on Aging, Newton Historic Commission, City Council, Design Review Committee, and others, to develop a preferred design concept and make many other decisions, including finding a temporary location for senior programming during construction.
More information on NewCal can be found on the NewCal page on the City’s website.
If anyone is interested in being a LWVN Observer for the NewCal project, please Contact Us.