Category: Default

What’s Happening in Newton this Week? Finance Committee Meeting cancelled, Riverside is back (update only this week), Medical Marijuana Dispensary Meeting (1158 Beacon Street), Party to kick-off CREATE Newton, School Building Project and Enrollment Update, Riverside (update only this week) and NewCAL are back and more…..

The first (?) Finance Committee Meeting of the term has been cancelled. See Cancellation Notice here.

Concerned about trash and recycling? After reading the front page article of Sunday’s Globe (or the online version here), I’m very concerned about the future of recycling. The Long Range Planning Subcommittee of the Solid Waste Commission will be meeting TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. in Room 2G, at the Newton Free Library. Although the agenda does not specifically mention recycling, it might be a good opportunity to learn more about their recommendations.

Union Twist – 1158 Beacon Street – Recreational Marijuana Dispensary on the Highlands Area Council’s agenda this week. In fact, the agenda is focused not only on an update about this proposal but will feature former City Councilor and Land Use Chair, Greg Schwartz who will provide information on marijuana dispensary siting rules and other special permit considerations.

Riverside – Zone Change Request and Special Permit/Site Plan Approval Request is on the Land Use Committee Agenda this Tuesday evening. However, according to the Chair’s Note:

” Chairs Note: The Committee will hear an update from the petitioner relative to the following two items. A Public Hearing for the following items has been assigned for January 28, 2020. The discussion on January 28, 2020 will be relative to Site Design and Open Space”

CREATE Newton: CREATE Newton is hosting a Community Reception on Tuesday, January 14th at the Showcase SuperLux Theatre at the Street, Chestnut Hill from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Hors d’ouvres and Cash Bar but an RSVP is required. To RSVP – go here (hopefully – it’s not too late!). For more information about CREATE Newton and to read/review the Comprehensive Arts and Culture Plan – go here (NOTE: that if you click on the online version to view the Plan, a cookies warning message comes up).

Want to know the latest plan for the Schools regarding building projects and enrollment projections? The City Council and School Committee will hold a joint meeting on Wednesday, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 111 at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. The agenda can be found here.

NewCAL is back! It won’t be located at Albermarle or on any other parkland (” This morning the NewCAL Working Group recommended to me that Albemarle and all parks/green space be taken off the list of locations being considered for NewCAL. I agree; they’re off the list.” – from the Mayor’s January 7, 2020 update), but the project is still moving forward kicking off its first meeting of the year on Thursday, January 16th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 111 at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. More info can be found here.

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

Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council to Meet on Monday, January 13th

The Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council will meet on Monday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m. in the Waban Library Center, 1608 Beacon Street. The agenda includes the following:

  • Update on the Union Twist proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary at 1158 Beacon Street – (Jaylin Cleaners building)
  • Presentation and community discussion regarding marijuana dispensary siting rules and other special permit considerations and how residents can be most effective in advocating with respect to dispensary permit applications

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of January 12th

Finance Committee: The regularly scheduled Finance Committee meeting has been cancelled. The Meeting Cancellation Notice can be found here.

Zoning and Planning Committee: The Zoning and Planning Committee will meet on Monday, January 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Chamber and in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Chairman’s Note: Presentation by the Planning Department on the History of Zoning Redesign – See Planning Memo
  • Request to amend Chapter 22 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Newton, 2017 to temporarily suspend nominations made by the Historical Commission and the City Council for landmark designations of any land, buildings and structures in the City of Newton in order to allow the City adequate time to review the landmark ordinance and consider what revisions are appropriate – See Planning Memo

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 14th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Consistency Ruling and an amendment to a previously approved Special Permit/Site Plan to make changes to paved areas at the site – 642 Centre Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Change of Zone to Mixed-Use 3/Transit-Oriented District for portions of land located at 355 Grove Street (currently zoned BU-2) and 399 Grove Street (currently zoned BU-5) abutting the existing MU-3 Zone (Riverside Development)
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct a mixed use, transit-oriented development of residential units, office, retail, personal services, restaurant, hotel, and related commercial uses not to exceed 1,025,000 square feet of gross floor area …. at 355 and 399 Grove Street – Riverside MBTA Development)
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow the expansion of a non-conforming multi-family dwelling use by constructing a three-story multi-family development (20 units) at 32.6′ in height in a manufacturing district with greater than 20,000 sq. ft. of new gross floor area at 182-184 & 166 California Street
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a restaurant with more than 50 seats and a parking waiver of 478 parking stalls at 93-105 Union Street, 1280 Centre Street, 47-61 Langley Road, 49-63 Union Street., and 790-794 Beacon Street – Piccadelli Square – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow parking design criteria including waivers to interior landscaping requirements, lighting requirements, to allow parking accessory to a manufacturing use in a residential district, and to allow parking in the front and side setback at 287-289 Newtonville Avenue – See Planning Memo
  • Request to amend a previously approved Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to revise the design of the parking structure and surface parking and to add a fourth story to the approved three-story office building; requiring a variance from the height and story limitations and an amendment to the deed restrictions at 180 Wells Avenue – See Planning Memo
  • Two requests for Class 1 Auto Dealer Licenses
    • MAG Retail Holdings – CJ LLC /d/b/a McGovern Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram – 777 Washington Street
    • Flaherty Equipment Sales Corporation – 846 Walnut Street
  • Eight requests for Class 2 Auto Dealer Licenses
    • Jacob and Associates – 1232 Washington Street
    • New England Motor Mart, Inc. – 1211 Washington Street
    • Motorcars of Boston, Inc. – 1191 Washington Street
    • JR Car Care, Inc. – 454 Watertown Street
    • KC Auto – 55 Farwell Street
    • Enzo’s Auto Sales – 10 Hawthorn Street
    • Auction Direct Preowned – 1545 Washington Street
    • Newton Collision Inc. – d/b/a GM Autobody

Joint Meeting of the City Council and School Committee: See Separate entry

Programs and Services CommitteeSpecial Meeting – NOTE: Special Location; – The Programs and Services Committee will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, January 15th at 6:30 p.m. in Room 304 of the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request by the City Clerk to accept the provisions of MGL, Chap 53, Section 18B to allow the City of Newton to provide voters with:
    • the full text of each question;
    • a fair and concise summary of each question, including a 1 sentence statement describing the effect of a yes or no vote, which shall be prepared by the city solicitor; and
    • arguments for and against the question, for all types of municipal ballot question

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.

Requirements:
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.

Three Memos on the Referendum Petition

With anticipated discussion but NO FINAL ACTION to be taken at TONIGHT’S Full City Council Meeting (see Clerk’s Note on the New Docket), memos have been prepared regarding the referendum petition filed regarding the Northland Development Project. Three memos are now available: The Planning Department’s Memo on the Referendum Petition, the City Clerk’s Memo on the Referendum Petition, and the Council President’s Memo on the Referendum Petition. Enjoy!

Special Meeting of City Council – Discussion and Vote on Northland Referendum

The City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, January 8th, at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber to deliberate, discuss, and possibly vote on the following (see agenda):

  • To Repeal or Rescind its decision on Board Order #425-18 (request for a change of zone for land located at 156 Oak Street (Section 51 Block 28 Lot 5A), 275-281 Needham Street (Section 51, Block 28, Lot 6) and 55 Tower Road (Section 51 Block 28 Lot 5), currently zoned MU1 to Business Use 4), OR
  • To refer the measure to a public vote – #425-18(2) Request to set date for a special election to refer the voter’s docket item #425-18, passed by the City Council on December 2, 2019.

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of January 5th

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct a 189 sq. ft. one-story addition behind an existing detached garage, increasing the FAR to .43 where .41 exists and .33 is required (? maybe allowed?) at 95 Suffolk Road – See Planning Department Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to raze and existing garage and replace it with a larger garage, extending the non-conforming side and rear setbacks at 18 Arapahoe Road – See Planning Department Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct dormers in the attic level to add 769 sq. ft. of habitable space for an accessory apartment creating an FAR of of .65 where .55 is allowed and ..53 exists, and to install a staircase to access the roof of an existing detached garage, extending the side and rear setbacks vertically at 68 Manet Road – See Planning Department Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow parking facility waivers including; to allow parking in the front setback, to waive interior landscape requirements in order to expand an existing parking area at 55-67 Border Street – See Planning Department Memo

Programs and Services Committee: The Programs and Services Committee Meeting for this week has been cancelled. See Cancellation Notice here.

Public Safety and Transportation Committee: The Public Safety and Transportation Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 8th following the Committee of the Whole in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for an amendment to the Senior Citizen Sticker Parking Program to allow the possibility for vehicles displaying a valid senior citizen’s parking sticker to continue to park on Highland Avenue, between Lowell Avenue and Bram Way, thereby freeing up parking spaces within the Austin Street lot for other vehicles
  • Annual Report of the work of the Traffic Council for 2019

Public Facilities Committee: The Public Facilities Committee will meet on Wendesday, January 8th following the Committee of the Whole in Room 204. The agenda will focus on scheduling and priorities for the 2020-2021 term and review the following:

  • Update on the Status of the Solar Phase 3 Projects
  • Update on the plans, proposed schedule and any funding needed to correct recently identified deficiencies and improvements to the Horace Mann Elementary School at Nevada Street
  • Request for an update on Double Poles Working Group and status of removing double poles and cataloguing and assigning responsibility of transfer of utility and city wires
  • Request revisions to Sections 5-54 through 5-58 of the City of Newton Ordinances to clarify the City Council’s role and decision-making process with respect to design review, funding, and budget oversight during the construction process of municipal capital building projects;
  • Request discussion with DPW Commissioner to review City policy and/or ordinances regarding street reconstruction for potential amendments
  • Request updates on the Climate Action Plan
  • Request discussion with the Sustainability Team to to create an ordinance to limit or prohibit the installation of fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and substantially renovated buildings and clarify the Council’s authority to prohibit extension of gas mains subject to the conditions of the existing infrastructure
  • Request for periodic updates from the Library Trustees and Library Director on the Library expansion project