On Wednesday, November 29, at 6:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a special meeting in person (Council Chamber) and virtually (Zoom link) to vote on the proposed Village Center Overlay District (VCOD). The City Council met previously to vote on the VCOD on November 15 and November 20. In each meeting, there were a number of proposed amendments, and the City Council was not able to get through them all. The November 29 special meeting continues the process.
LWVN supports the VCOD, and we encourage LWVN members to show support for passage of the VCOD by attending the meeting in person at City Hall or on Zoom. In addition, LWVN members can call or write to their city councilors to encourage passage of the VCOD with, at a minimum, the five villages required by the MBTA Communities Law (Newton Centre, Newton Highlands, Waban, West Newton, and Newtonville), plus Auburndale. While including Auburndale in the VCOD is not required by the MBTA Communities Act, the City has received indications that failure to include Auburndale will decrease the likelihood of receiving long-hoped-for funding to renovate all three of Newton’s commuter rail stations.
The VCOD furthers the regional plan adopted, through a 2021 state law, the Massachusetts Housing Choice Bill (MBTA Communities Act), to address the state’s critical housing shortage by increasing the housing supply statewide, particularly in connection with transportation hubs. The VCOD is structured to promote safe and secure housing at a range of price points, while incentivizing increasing the supply of smaller housing units. The VCOD concentrates the opportunity for compact development near transit and where key infrastructure exists, providing support to our local economy with minimal increase in car trips, while supporting walkable village centers. Newton, along with other communities that have transit stations, is required by the MBTA Communities Act to change zoning regulations to comply with the law.
On June 26, 2023, and November 13, 2013, LWVN sent letters to the City Council in support of the Village Center Overlay District (VCOD), which furthers the positions of LWVN and implements the MBTA Communities Act. You can read the entirety of LWVN’s letters here: November 13, 2023 and June 26, 2023.
In October 2023, LWVN joined the Newton for Everyone coalition (NOT the Newton for Everyone PAC formed shortly before the November 2023 municipal elections), a group of civic, housing, climate activists, clergy, and local businesses supporting the proposed VCOD.
For further information about the VCOD, see the City of Newton’s website page on the Village Center Overlay District.