What’s Up in Newton this week? Northland Referendum Dominates City Deliberations/Discussions; Designer Selection Committee to review Designers for Horace Mann at Nevada Street – Improvements/Renovations; Mark Development hosts open house for it’s Chapter 40B Project – Dunstan East; Fees for Reusable Bags to go into effect on January 8th and more…..

Northland Referendum dominates a lot of City discourse this week. According to the City Clerk in the Clerk’s Note in the City Council Docket this week:

” The City Clerk’s Office, on behalf of the Newton Election Commission, has determined that the citizens referendum petition requesting that the City Council repeal or rescind Council Order #425‐18, the change of zone for the Northland parcels at Oak and Needham Streets, has a sufficient number of signatures, pending a two‐day period of public review which will end at the close of business on January 7, 2020.  Discussion of this item may take place at this meeting, but final action may not be taken. Per City Charter, 3,032 certified signatures are required to place this again before the Council.  The Clerk’s Office stopped certifying signatures at 4,258; 40% more than needed as allowed by City Charter…

This item will be before the City Council for action at a special meeting of the Council on January 8, 2020, the Council must decide whether it will vote to repeal or rescind its decision on Board Order #425‐18 or refer the measure to a public vote. If the Council chooses to repeal or rescind its approval, the Council vote must take place within 30 days of January 8, 2020. If the Council’s vote on a motion to repeal does not pass, or alternatively if the Council affirmatively votes to refer the measure to the voters, the Council will have 30 days from its vote to set a date for an election.  If the Council does not take any action on this item before February 7, 2020, it will automatically be referred to the voters and the Council will have 30‐days to set an election date. “

So it appears that the Council will take the citizens referendum petition at it’s City Council meeting TONIGHT but will not vote on it. However, the City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, January 8th, where the Council must decide whether it will vote to repeal or rescind its vote to approve the Northland rezoning. The Council has 30 days to vote to either repeal or rescind or to refer to the voters. If they refer to the voters, they have 30 days from that voter referral vote to set a date for the election. The Council MUST ACT before February 7th – otherwise, it will be automatically referred to the voters and the Council will have 30 days to set an election date. Got it?

If you want additional information, the Planning Department, the City Clerk and the Council President have provided memos to help guide us all through the process.

See Planning Department memo here; City Clerk memo here; and the Council President memo here.

In addition to Council deliberations, discussions and votes, the Election Commission has Northland on their agenda as well as the Newton Housing Partnership – (see agenda) along with the Chapter 40B Dunstan East proposal and the Riverside proposal.

Two Area Councils will also be discussing Northland this week. See Waban Area Council agenda (Note: the Waban Area Council will also hear a presentation from a Developer and the Developer’s representative about a 350 unit apartment complex replacing an office building at 40 Williams Street in Wellesley) and Newtonville Area Council agenda below.

Horace Mann Elementary School at Nevada Street Designer responses: The Designer Selection Committee will meet this week to discuss the responses they received for potential designers to address the deficiencies and improvements needed for the Horace Mann Elementary School now at Nevada Street.

Speaking of Dunstan East…. According to newly elected Ward 3 Councilor, Julia Malakie’s most excellent newsletter (go here to subscribe), Mark Development will host an open house at FUUSN – First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton, 1326 Washington Street, on Thursday, January 9th at 7:00 p.m. The Dunstan East proposal is a Chapter 40B proposal (does not require City Council approval but does require Zonign Board of Appeals approval) 244 unit proposal (with 25% of the units designated for affordable housing – 80% of Area Median Income) and 12,100 sq. feet of retail space to be located at Dunstan Street, Kempton Place and Washington Street in West Newton. For more information on the Open House and on the proposal, please go here.

Fees for Reusable bags goes into effect for businesses/retailers over 3500 sq. ft. this Wednesay, January 8th in accordance with the amended Plastic Bag Ordinance passed by the City Council in July. According to the City’s website:

January 8th 2020- All establishments over 3500 sq.ft. will be required to comply with the updated ordinance at this time. Businesses over 3500 sq.ft. will be required to charge no less than 10 cents ($0.10) for reusable bags provided by the store. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags.

July 8th, 2020 ALL retail businesses will be required to meet this ordinance. This will include all retail establishments including restaurants, food or ice cream trucks, convenience stores, retail pharmacy, supermarket or seasonal/temporary businesses.

If bags are provided to customers, the bag shall be either recyclable paper bag or a reusable checkout bag (see ordinance for a definition of each)

A retail establishment that provides any type of checkout bag shall sell it for no less than ten cents ($0.10). All moneys collected pursuant to this ordinance shall be retained by the retail establishment.
Any charge for a checkout bag shall be separately stated on a receipt provided to the customer at the time of sale and shall be identified as “Checkout Bag Charge”.

For more info: please go here.

Weekly Road Construction Schedule: This week’s Road Construction schedule can be found here.