I’m excited to write to you as Chair of the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP) to inform you about the important work our committee is doing regarding zoning changes in Newton. What is zoning? Zoning is the way governments control the physical development of our city. For example, it governs areas where we can have residences of various types, as well as commercial, manufacturing and mixed-use buildings. It also governs the use of properties throughout the city as well as the size of buildings on these properties.
Why does Newton need new zoning?
The City Council’s efforts to reform zoning began with the work of a group of citizens tasked by Mayor Warren and (then) Board of Alderman to develop a plan for reforming Newton’s outdated zoning ordinance. Our ordinance has not been comprehensively reviewed since 1953. In 2011, this group produced a report reflecting citizens commonly voiced concerns such as;
- Why are there so many teardowns?
- Why should people be allowed to build “McMansions” that come so close to my home?
- What can we do to make sure my daughter can afford to live in Newton when she starts looking for a home?
- Why aren’t there any options for places to live in Newton when I can no longer take care of my big home where I raised my family?
- How can we keep our villages full of shoppers with a vibrant mix of shops?
- How can we manage parking and traffic?
- How can we channel growth that we need to thrive and advance to appropriate areas of our city?
- How can we preserve the character of our neighborhoods?
- How can Newton contribute to climate change mitigation?