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September Update: Zoning Redesign & Santander Bank

08/29/2022 06:41:25 PM


Lisa Keshet

Newton Zoning Redesign
The City of Newton's Zoning Redesign project is a multi-year effort to update and rewrite Newton's Zoning Ordinance. 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. Would you like to participate in the City of Newton’s Feedback Tool to influence the Zoning Redesign initiative? If so, please let Lisa Keshet and Tony Broh know. We can organize a virtual meeting in which Lisa will present the Feedback Tool, an interactive online survey created by the City of Newton to bring zoning feedback back to the City.  Phase 2 of the Newton Zoning Redesign process is well underway with over eighty Community Network Connectors engaging their communities using the Feedback Tool between September 1st and October 16th. 

Zoning Redesign is currently focused on village centers. The first community engagement phase, which took place from the end of May through the beginning of October, 2021, has concluded. The City of Newton staff are now involved in the second phase of engagement, where they will present ‘development scenarios’ for large and small village centers based on the takeaways from the 2021 engagement and economic feasibility. These scenarios will look at what the current zoning allows , and how they could look like in the future under alternative zoning rules. 

The values that surfaced as a result of the community input from Phase 1 of Village Centers are: 
     1. Creating more communal public space+activation
     2. Increasing accessibility to buildings and infrastructure within
         Village Centers
     3. Incorporating climate resiliency through built structures and
     4. Helping small businesses to begin, stay and thrive in Village
     5. Making permitting process easier, clearer, and multi-tiered
     6. Adding more diverse housing options and encouraging mixed-
         use projects (although to what extent had a spectrum of
     7. Prioritizing safe and accessible routes to and through village
         centers, especially walking and biking. 

Mechanisms  to learn about the Newton Zoning Redesign process include:
     1. Participating in a Zoning Redesign Virtual Meeting with
         the Feedback Tool (Lisa Keshet can organize the meeting for
         the CDT community)
     2. Visiting the Zoning Redesign Library Exhibit at the Newton
         Centre Public Library (after September 1st) 
     3. Visit the Virtual Library Exhibit with a discussion guide 

Update on Santander Bank Project
Many of us have been following the potential new development project that would include the Santander Bank, closely situated to the Second Church, at Washington St. & Davis St. The project is still being discussed within the context of the Newton Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP).Currently, the plans include the transformation of the Santander Bank into a large restaurant and the construction of an additional structure behind the bank (where the parking lot now stands). This structure is being planned as a five-story apartment building with one parking spot for each apartment (41 apartments at market-rate and 9 at affordable rates). There are a number of special permits being requested for this project, for example, but not limited to: height, FAR, and setbacks. 

There is quite a lot of debate about this project with much of the concern being centered around the reduced parking that the developer is requesting for the restaurant planned for the Santander Bank. Supporters have been emphasizing the need for more rental apartments in Newton, which are accessible and in village centers. 

Wed, November 30 2022 6 Kislev 5783