The latest announcements and updates...

What’s Up for this Week?

Visioning for Riverside – paid for by the Developer? Yes – the Council will vote on a request from the Mayor to accept and expend funds (from the Developer) to pay for that Visioning Process residents have been asking for.

Northland and Transportation? Land Use will take up the Northland Special Permit/Site Plan Approval and Change of Zone request with a  focus on the traffic and transportation aspects of the proposed project. This caught my eye:  “As detailed in the petitioner’s traffic studies and BETA’s peer review, the proposed development would impact movements to varying degrees at a number of intersections along the Needham Street corridor and other areas in the vicinity during the Weekday AM peak hours, the Weekday PM peak hours and/or the Saturday Midday peak hour; project-generated traffic will also impact intersections during the Weekday Midday peak hour. In some cases, the Level of Service (LOS) at given intersections will degrade (e.g., from LOS C to LOD D or LOS E to LOS F); in other cases, intersections that already function at LOS F will degrade further, with delays increasing anywhere from 10 to 126 seconds. Additional detail is provided in the peer review and a summary can be found in the Executive Summary.” See Plannning Memo.

The petitioner is looking at addressing this with a number of Transportation Demand Strategies – most notably with a shuttle system.

18 Municipal and School Properties up for lease? Yes – the City Council will take up a request to lease up to 18 city-owned properties for solar installations. Some of the initial controversial sites have either been removed from consideration – most notably Countryside, Bigelow, and the parking along Albemarle Road. The Cove (Auburndale), Brown Middle School, and Library projects will have fewer trees removed and apparently some existing trees moved.

On the School Side….

MSBA Funding requests?  The Superintendent is requesting a vote from the City Council to submit funding requests to the MSBA to repair the roof and boiler at Memorial Spaulding and the the roof at Underwood.

It’s all Elementary, my dear Watson.…well at least when it comes to the Elementary Math at NPS. The School Department adopted a new math program in the Spring of 2017. An update on the program can be found here.

Equity Spending by PTOs – Because economic disparity can lead to inequality in terms of educational experiences and opportunities, the School Department together with the School Committee established an Equity Committee consisting of PTO reps, the Superintendent and members of the School Committee to review guidelines and ensure that PTO spending for resources including technology, programming (including enrichment activities and field trips) and staffing is equitable from each school. The School Committee approved changes to the Guidelines which will go into effect on July 1, 2019. An update on the Working Group’s activities and an FY2018 PTO Spending Data Spreadsheet can be found here.

 

Announcements – Week of January 13th

Holiday Tree Pickup Continues through January 18th.  According to the City’s website:

“2019 Christmas tree collection will begin January 7 and run through January 18, 2019.

Each year, the City of Newton collects Christmas trees for recycling during the first two weeks of January. Collection occurs on your regular trash collection day. Place your un-decorated Christmas tree out to the curb by 7am on your collection day during this two week window. All decorations and lights must be removed and trees cannot be in a plastic bag.

While we highly encourage residents to get their tree out during the first two weeks of January, we understand that time frame does not work for everyone. If you missed the Christmas tree pickup, please request a pickup request using 311 or by calling Customer Service. Alternatively, residents can wait until April and prepare the tree according to yard waste guidelines. “

Want to see a great a capella performance?  Next Friday January 18th at 7:00 pm, Gregorian Rugs in Newton Lower Falls will be the venue for the Winter Warmer! Featuring Newtones, the lead group from Newton South and also Newton North’s Forte, Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Pitches and Do’s and Dover-Sherborn’s Al Coda. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.  For more info, go to:  https://www.facebook.com/events/337517210168158/

Newton celebrates and honors Martin Luther King, Jr. :  Monday, January 21st, 9:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Newton, 848 Beacon Street. More event info can be found here.

Zoning Redesign and a Proposed New Zoning Ordinance

Back in October of 2018 (seems so long ago), the City’s Planning Department released the Pattern Book, the First Draft of the City’s Zoning Ordinance and the City’s First Draft of the City’s Zoning Map. Since then, the Planning Department has presented to the City Council (see Memo) and has been working with the City’s Councilors (presumably the ones from each of the Wards), scheduling meetings with each Ward (see below for Ward meeting schedule) to gather community input.

Here’s a list of the meetings – (some have happened already and there is no time listed so check with your Ward Councilors!):

Ward 1:  2/7/19 – Ciociaro Club – 144 Bridge Street –  Zoning Map

Ward 2:  2/28/19 – Newton Senior Center – 345 Walnut Street –  Zoning Map

Ward 3:  1/24/19 – Second Church – Parish Hall – 60 Highland Street – Zoning MapPoster

Ward 4:  3/7/19 – Lower Falls Community Center – Gymnasium – 545 Grove Street – Zoning Map

Ward 5:  11/29/18 – Angier Elementary School – 1697 Beacon Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 6:  1/10/19 – Mason Rice Elementary School – 149 Pleasant Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 7:  12/12/18 – Church of the Redeemer – 379 Hammond Street – Zoning Map; Poster

Ward 8:  2/13/19 – Countryside Elementary School – Cafetorium – 191 Dedham Street – Zoning Map

Newton Power Choice is here!

The City of Newton is launching it’s municipal electricity aggregation program – Newton Power Choice to residents and businesses – (YAY!  Thank you Emily Norton for your leadership, bringing this to Newton and Mayor Fuller for executing it!). A letter was mailed late last week notifying electricity customers that this new program (under contract with Direct Energy) will supply the City with electricity that includes 60% from renewable sources as the Standard Offering.  Currently, Eversource provides electricity from the minimum (Basic) renewable energy sources – 14% for 2019.

If you received the letter and do nothing – you will be AUTOMATICALLY ENROLLED in the Newton Power Choice Program beginning in March 2019.

If you received the letter and decide to OPT-OUT – Meaning you are not interested in participating, your OPT-OUT Request must be postmarked by FEBRUARY 12, 2019 to avoid automatic enrollment into the program.

If you OPT-OUT, you will remain on Eversource’s Basic Service. Please note:  You can OPT-OUT Anytime with no fee or penalty but must contact Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065 or OPT-OUT online at:  newtonpowerchoice.com. 

If you, like me, would like to take it to the next level and OPT-UP -with 100% renewable electricity, you must call Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065.

Two other important things to note:

Solar Metering:  If you have solar panels you will still receive net metering credit but they will be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not the Newton Power Choice Program price.

Already with an Electricity Supplier? – The City’s website suggests that you will not automatically be enrolled if you already have an existing contract with an electricity supplier. However, the letter states the following:  “…you should not have received this letter. However, if you did receive this letter and you already have an electricity supply contract that you wish to retain, you must OPT-OUT of this program.  If you do not opt-out, your current electricity supply contract may be cancelled, and you may be charged an early termination fee by your existing electricity supplier.”

—————I recommend contacting customer support at service@newtonpowerchoice.com or call 1-833-272-9592 for more clarification.

Public Information Sessions will be held. See below:

January 16, 6 PM, Mayor’s Office –  1000 Commonwealth Ave, Newton
January 23, 2 PM, Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut St, Newton
January 27, 11 AM, St Ignatius Parish, 28 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill
January 30, 7 PM, Newton Public Library, 330 Homer St, Newton
January 31, 6 PM, Warren House, 1600 Washington Street, Newton
February 7, 6 PM, Houghton Village, 37 Hamlet Street, Newton

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of January 13th

Finance Committee:  The Finance Committee will meet on Monday, January 14th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 211. The 146-page agenda includes the following:

  • Request for authorization to accept and expend funds provided by the Riverside MBTA property developer to cover the cost of independent consultant support for a vision plan for the Riverside MBTA property (Finance will meet jointly with the Zoning and Planning Committee for this item)
  • Monthly progress update from the Planning Department regarding the Washington Street Corridor Action Plan (Finance will meet jointly with the Zoning and Planning Committee for this item)
  • CPC (Community Preservation Committee) recommendation to appropriate $600,000 from the CPA Fund to the Planning Department for a grant to the Newton Cultural Alliance to supplement the previously granted CPA funds for rehabilitation of the Allen House (Finance will meet jointly with Zoning and Planning for this item)
  • CPC (Community Preservation Committee) recommendation to appropriate $30,000 from the CPA Fund to the Planning Department for a grant to the Newton Conservators for costs associated with holding conservation restrictions for 30 Wabasso Street and 20 Rogers Street (both acquired with CPA Funds)
  • Request to amend Section 27-10 of the Revised City of Newton Ordinances to increase the maximum qualifying gross receipts amount for the Tax Deferral Program from $60,000 – $72,000 for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2018 and all subsequent years
  • Request to transfer $100,000 from Current Year Budget Reserve to the DPW Processing Recyclables for increased costs or processing recyclables due to changes in recycling market
  • Request to increase the number of Full-Time employees in the Public Buildings Department by one custodian funded through the Council on Aging Formula Grant
  • Request to authorize the Superintendent of Schools to submit requests to the MSBA for consideration of funding for the replacement of the boiler and roof at Memorial Spaulding and replacement of the roof at Underwood
  • Request to transfer $1,300,000 from Free Cash to fund the continuation of the Feasibility Study/Schematic Design and Site Plan Approval for the Lincoln Eliot/Newton Early Childhood Program
  • Request to accept and expend $100,000 from the State Fiscal Year 2019 Legislative Earmark Funds to be used to conduct a feasibility study on the renovation, expansion and new construction of the Newton Senior Center
  • Re-appointment of David Spector to the Financial Audit Advisory Committee
  • Re-appointment of Maria Rosen as Constable for the City of Newton

Zoning and Planning Committee:  The Zoning and Planning Committee will meet on Monday, January 14th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 211/205. The 64-page agenda includes the following:

  • Request for authorization to accept and expend funds provided by the Riverside MBTA property developer to cover the cost of independent consultant support for a vision plan for the Riverside MBTA property (Zoning and Planning  will meet jointly with the Finance Committee for this item) – See Planning memo here.
  • Monthly progress update from the Planning Department regarding the Washington Street Corridor Action Plan (Zoning and Planning will meet jointly with the Finance Committee for this item) – See Planning memo on Washington Street Vision Plan Contract Status here. See Planning memo on the Newtonville and Crafts Street sub-areas of Washington Street here.
  • CPC (Community Preservation Committee) recommendation to appropriate $600,000 from the CPA Fund to the Planning Department for a grant to the Newton Cultural Alliance to supplement the previously granted CPA funds for rehabilitation of the Allen House(Zoning and Planning will meet jointly with the Finance Committee for this item)
  • Re-appointment of Ann Killilea to the Commission on Disability
  • Discussion and adoption of the Economic Development Strategy Plan as an amendment to the 2007 Newton Comprehensive Plan – See Planning memo here.
  • Discussion and review of the Draft Zoning Ordinance – with particular attention to the Village Districts section of the proposed ordinance – See Planning memo here.
  • Discussion of the Visioning process for the potential development of the Riverside MBTA Station

Land Use Committee:  The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda is centered around Transportation issues as it relates to the Northland petition for a Change of Zone Request and Request for a Special Permit Site Plan Approval. See Planning memo here.

City Council Blue Ribbon Commission:  The City Council Blue Ribbon Commission will meet on Wednesday, January 16th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Review initial list of criteria and data findings
  • Review and confirm guiding principles, necessary work and sub-committee objectives
  • Discuss scope of each sub-committee
  • Determine go-forward meeting schedule

Public Facilities Committee/Committee of the Whole:  The Council will meet as a Committee of the Whole with Public Facilities Committee presiding on Wednesday, January 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes only one item:

  • Request to enter into negotiations for the potential lease of 18 municipal and school properties for the purposes of third party construction, ownership, and operation of on-site renewable solar energy generation from which the City will purchase electric output and/or metering credits

 

City Board and Commission Meetings – Week of January 13th

Commission on Disability:  The Commission on Disability will meet on Monday, January 14th at 6:30 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda include the following:

  • Update on Washington Street Corridor Vision
  • Approval of 12/10/18 minutes
  • CDBG Report
  • Ideas for FY2020 CDBG -Funded Access Projects
  • Accessible Fines Report
  • Update on Operation Access
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • ADA Coordinator’s Report
  • COD Member Applicant – W. Abramson
  • Officer Elections

Board of License Commission:  The Board of License Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda can be found here.

Board of Assessors:  The Newton Board of Assessors will meet on Wednesday, January 16th at 9:00 a.m. in Room 108. The agenda can be found here.

Urban Design Commission:  The Urban Design Commission will meet on Wednesday, January 16th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Sign Permit request for 112 Needham Street – Arin Realty Co., Inc.
  • Sign Permit request for 776 Beacon Street – Chase
  • Sign Permit request for 200-220 Boylston Street – Chestnut Hill Square – Lunette Optic
  • Sign Permit request for 137 Rumford Avenue – Extra Space Storage
  • Design Review for 39 Herrick Road – Herrick Road Residences

Youth Commission:  The Youth Commission will meet on Wednesday, January 16th at 5:00 p.m. in Room 211.  The agenda can be found here. Special guest will be Mayor Fuller.

Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission:  The Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission will meet on Thursday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205.  The agenda includes the following requests for Certificate of Appropriateness:

  • Request to replace electric meter, box and conduit at 61 Gate House Road 
  • Request to install solar panels at 116 Old Orchard Road 
  • Request for approvals for railings on rear roof area, rear retaining wall and play structure – Violations – at  29 Gate House Road
  • Request to replace failed slate roof seams with copper at 47 Old Orchard Road 

 

School Committee to Meet on Monday, January 14th

The Newton School Committee will meet on Monday, January 14th first, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 210 with a vote to move into Executive Session in Room 304 to discuss strategy in preparation for Collective Bargaining with the Newton Teacher’s Association. Following the Executive Session, the Committee will convene in Room 210 for Open Session. The agenda includes the following:

What’s Up for this Week?

Check out the Land Use Committee agenda. A number of smaller, scaled development projects seeking special permits – (20 units on California Street, 6 units on Cherry Street and 9 units on Herrick Road).  More banks?  Request to amend a special permit on Needham Street to allow bank use.

Recreational Pot Shop on Beacon Street? – Check out the Development Review Team Meetings for this week.

$100K in earmarked Legislative funding for Senior Center feasibility study – Programs and Services Committee and Public Facilities Committee.

$1.3M of Free Cash to be used to continue Feasibility Study/Schematic Design for Lincoln-Eliot/Newton Early Childhood Program