How does the Newton League make decisions?
The League of Women Voters makes decisions carefully, following procedures established over many decades on the national, state, and local levels. While this means that the League can take longer than other organizations to come to a decision, most League members believe that this approach ensures thoughtful and meaningful action.
Issues or requests for action usually come through one of our subcommittees, although individual members (or groups that aren’t formal committees) are welcome to propose actions as well. Proposals for action must be presented to the board for approval. When an action falls under one of our existing positions, the proposal cites the position the action supports and the reasons action is needed. The board then votes to decide whether to take a particular action. When the action does not fall under an existing position, however, the process is a bit more complicated. Before taking action on something new, League procedures require that a formal study process be undertaken. The result of a formal study is a written document that proposes a new position for the League to adopt. The study and proposal are presented to the membership at the next Annual Meeting, and the whole membership votes on whether to adopt the new position.
LWVN Consensus Studies
Initiative to Review the Taxation of Newton Golf Courses and Country Clubs
At its Annual Meeting held on June 15, 2023, the membership approved the formation of a Consensus Study Committee to review a particular provision of a state law designed to preserve open space (Title IX Chapter 61B: Classification and Taxation of Recreational Land), whereby properties that meet the state’s definition of “recreational land” can apply to pay property tax at only 25% of the land’s assessed value. Several golf courses in Newton qualify under this law, together saving $1.75 million in taxes. The initiative committee will explore the topic from all perspectives, seeking to understand the impact and equitability of the law, what public benefit it provides to Newton, and whether there are any changes LWVN would like to advocate for at either the local or state level, or in concert with Leagues in other municipalities that are affected (Belmont, Brookline, and Wellesley all have golf courses that receive significant tax breaks too). The committee will consist of both LWVN members and nonmembers who have expertise on relevant subjects, and it will include members from various villages of Newton.
For more information on this initiative, Contact Us.
Consensus Study Committee to Update Zoning Positions
At its Annual Meeting held on June 12, 2022, the membership approved the formation of a Consensus Study Committee to Update Zoning Positions. This will be an intensive study of local zoning, and membership interest in welcome and encouraged. Anyone interested in participating in this committee should Contact Us.
The City is currently undertaking a multi-year effort to review its Zoning Ordinances. The City’s Zoning Ordinances have not been significantly updated since 1987, and since then the City has set forth many goals around land use, housing, transportation, economic development and climate action which cannot be met by current zoning ordinances. The City’s process for zoning review is undertaking to address all these issues. Read about the City’s Zoning Redesign Process.
LWVN’s current positions are not updated enough to give adequate information and credibility for the LWVN to review, support, or oppose any recommendations arising from the City’s zoning review. The Zoning Review Committee will be undertaking an in depth look at zoning issues. The study of zoning is closely linked with land use, housing, economic and mixed-use development; redevelopment, rehabilitation and conservation; historic preservation; and transportation. A balanced study is planned, including research and information gathering, informing members through our monthly emails, and member informational meetings. Current state and national positions will be researched, as well, to be sure any possible changes will be in compliance with them. It is hoped that the culmination of the committee’s work will result in a consensus meeting or meetings in which we reach a new position or positions with respect to zoning. The study is expected to take 1-2 years.
Focus and Scope
The approved focus and scope of the Study are as follows:
FOCUS: A study to update zoning positions
SCOPE: A study of how current LWVN positions and goals related to land use, housing, transportation, economic development, and climate action reflect the views and needs of Newton’s racial and economically diverse community and are advanced or impeded by current zoning ordinances.
Additional Information: More information about the study committee will be forthcoming in the next few months. Look for LWVN emails and newsletters.
Charter Commission Initiative
Local Transportation Study
Alison Leary & Lucia Dolan
National Education Study
Jo Corro & Lynn Scheller
National Privatization Study
LWVMA & LWVUS Consensus Studies
LWVMA Consensus Studies
The most recent LWVMA consensus study was conducted in the early part of 2019 and concerned the state ballot question process. For information on LWVN’s participation in that consensus study, see Study on State Ballot Question Process. For more detailed information on that consensus study as well as other LWVMA consensus studies, see LWVMA Consensus Studies.
LWVUS Consensus Studies
For a comprehensive list of studies and research conducted by League members, visit the League of Women Voters Education Fund Clearinghouse. The purpose of the site is to share League study documents among some 800 national, state and local Leagues and with the public. Leagues can save time by not reinventing study materials and see how other Leagues have approached a tough issue. Leagues can also gain inspiration for program planning. Visitors may download and print the documents. League members may submit documents for the site.