Category: Default

What’s Up this Week in Newton? ALOT!! Northland, Riverside Compromise Zoning, Washington Street Vision Plan, Climate Action Plan and increase in Bulky Waste/White Goods fees – all scheduled to be voted on TONIGHT; Tax Classification Hearing TONIGHT; School Committee Member Margaret Albright recognized for MASC/MASS Lifetime Achievement Award; The Centre at 1294; 4th NewCAL Community Meeting, Ward 6 City Councilor-at-Large Recount and more…..

Northland Change of Zone and Special Permit Application: The long awaited Northland development project is scheduled to be voted by the Full City Council this evening. The Land Use Committee voted both the Change of Zone Request and the Special Permit/Site Plan Approval request last week – See Report. The Draft Council Order regarding the Rezoning can be found here and the Draft Council Order regarding the Special Permit/Site Plan Approval can be found here.

Riverside Compromise Zoning Amendments: The Riverside compromise zoning amendments were voted on at the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on November 7th. The Draft MU3 Zoning Text Amendments can be found here. The Zoning and Planning Report is not currently available online but this item is on the Reports Docket to be voted on TONIGHT.

Washington Street Vision Plan: The Washington Street Vision Plan was approved by the Zoning and Planning Committee at its meeting on November 7th, and is scheduled for a vote TONIGHT at the Full Council Meeting. The Zoning and Planning Report is not currently available online.

Got lots of big, bulky trash? Increase in Bulky Waste/White Goods Fees before the City Council TONIGHT: Both the Public Facilities Committee and the Finance Committee approved an increase in the Bulky Waste/White Goods fee and the item is scheduled to be voted on TONIGHT. The fee would increase from $25 per pick-up (with a limit of 5 items/per pick-up) to $25 per item. Free drop-off will be maintained except for TVs and computer monitors. The Draft Ordinance can be found at the end of the November 18th Finance Report found here.

Tax Classification Hearing TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers: Yup, it’s that time of year where the City Council will determine the FY2020 Municipal Property Tax Levy imposed on residential, open space, commercial, and industrial classes of real property. The agenda can be found here and the FY2020 Tax Classification Booklet can be found here.

Congratulations to Ward 3 School Committee Member, Margaret Albright: The Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC/MASS) has awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ward 3 School Committee Member Margaret Albright.

“Lifetime Achievement is a designation established to honor individuals who, through their service to their community and their local school committee, have exhibited the best characteristics of public service.” More information about this award can be found here.

The Centre at 1294: The former Newton Centre Branch Library has been returned to the community after many years of advocating to get it back. The Centre at 1294 is a historic building in the heart of Newton Centre. The Parks and Recreation is in charge of programming and there are classes open to everyone in Newton and seniors from all communities. To register visit www.newtonmarec.com. Join the mailing list: The Centre at 1294 or the FB page to find out more information.

NewCAL Community Meeting: The 4th of 5 Community Meetings on the NewCAL project will be held on Thursday, November 21st at 7:00 p.m. in Room 111 at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. Info on the NewCAL project can be found here.

Recount for the Ward 6 City Councilor-at-Large seat set for Saturday, November 23rd: The Recount for the Ward 6 City Councilor-at-Large seat has been set for this Saturday, November 23rd. As you will recall, the difference between Alicia Bowman and incumbent, Greg Schwartz was 30 votes. The recount will be held at the Cabot Elementary School’s cafeteria beginning at 10:00 a.m. – though there will be other items to attend to: moving ballots from City Hall to Cabot School and blocking the ballots (sorting the ballots into groups of 50) prior to the official start of the recount.

Some of you may recall that I won my former seat on the Board of Aldermen/City Council in 1997 on a recount. I had originally been informed that the difference between me and then incumbent, Eric MacLeish, was 52 votes. I petitioned for a recount and won by 12 votes and served for 20 years on the City Council (and am so far (I think), the longest Asian American to have served in elected office in Massachusetts)!

6th Annual Turkey Trot is this Saturday! The Turkey Trot will be held on Saturday, November 23rd – Kids 1 mile fun run will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K race will begin at 9:00 a.m. Online registration closes on November 18th . Go here for more information and to register.

Robotics Competition this Saturday, at Newton North: According to the NewtonStem website: “The LigerBots will host the Newton Qualifier, a FIRST LEGO League robotics competition for 400 Massachusetts students in Grades 4-8 on Saturday, November 23, 8AM-4PM, at Newton North HS. It’s free and open to the public. The theme of this year’s competition is City Shaper (see video). Thirty-six teams will compete using LEGO robots they have designed, built, and programmed to perform complex tasks. The public may also view the teams’ displays of their solutions to real-world problems related to the urban-design theme. There will also be hands-on STEM activities for kids, and the LigerBots’ First Robotics Competition robot will be on display.” FYI: This is an extremely exciting event. My kids used to participate and I loved it! If I wasn’t participating in the recount, I would stop by to cheer on all of the teams!

Annual Turkey Shoot: No actual shooting of turkeys but a chance to win a turkey and Thanksgiving fixins’! The Turkey Shoot, hosted by the John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club of Newton, will be held on Saturday, November 23rd from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the American Legion Post 440, 295 California Street. More information can be found here.

New Phil Concert on Saturday: The New Philharmonia Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major featuring Bruce Falby, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 on Saturday, November 23rd at 7:30 p.m at the First Baptist Church, 848 Beacon Street and again on Sunday, November 24th at 3:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 848 Beacon Street. More information and ticket purchasing can be found here.

Want to run the Boston Marathon? The John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club of Newton is an official charity of the Boston Athletic Association! Learn how to be an official registered runner and raise support the Club. More information can be found here.

Green Newton Open House: Green Newton is hosting an Open House on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. at the War Memorial at Newton City Hall. If you are you interested in doing something about the climate crisis but not sure what you can do, Green Newton welcomes you to an open meeting to meet and chat with like-minded people and learn about Green Newton’s new initiatives–Home Energy Efficiency, Electric Vehicles, Greening Your Kitchen, Consume Less Stuff, Composting, Green Building, or your idea! Refreshments will be served. Please R.S.V.P. to marcia@greennewton.org.

Special added bonus: I’ll be there for a very brief presentation on Food and Climate Action! Hope you can attend!

Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market: A Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market will be held on Tuesday, November 26th from 1 – 5 p.m. at the War Memorial at Newton City Hall. You can pre-order from your favorite farmers’ market vendors and pick them up at City Hall on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving! More information about the market and participating vendors can be found here. Thank you Village Bank for your support!

This Week’s Road Construction Schedule: The Weekly Road Construction Schedule can be found here.

Election Information

The Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, November 5th. Polls will be open from 7a.m. – 8 p.m. Go here for polling location information.

*Incumbent

**Please note: Jake’s colleague on the City Council, Becky Grossman, who is running unopposed for Ward 7 City Councilor at-large, is also running for Congress. Her City Council website can be found here, her Candidate Statement can be found here, and her Congressional Facebook page link can be found here.

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of November 3rd

Programs and Services Committee: The regularly scheduled meeting for Programs and Services Committee has been cancelled. The Cancellation Notice can be found here.

Public Facilities Committee: The Public Facilities Committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Petition for a Grant of Location to install and maintain a gas main in Boulder Road to provide services to 19 and 28 Boulder Drive
  • Request authorization to install sewer extension for the Farwell Street Subdivision consisting of 6 new single-family homes
  • Request to name the intersection of Walnut Street and Lincoln Street John O’Hara Square
  • Request to transfer $86,800 from Interest Temp Loans to a Capital Project Account under Public Buildings Department for the purpose of funding the replacement of the leaking boiler at the Police Headquarters
  • Request authorization to accept and expend a grant of $52,000 from MassDEP as part of the Recycling Dividends Grant Program to support the City’s Waste Diversion Program
  • Request to transfer $88,000 from Free Cash to the DPW Sustainable Materials Management Equipment and Machinery Account to fund the replacement of two trash compactors at Rumford Avenue
  • Request to transfer $60,000 from Free Cash to the DPW Sustainable Materials Management Equipment and Machinery Account to fund the replacement of two trash compactors at Rumford Avenue – this was a request made last year and it is the Chair’s intent to move No Action Necessary on this item
  • The Director of Sustainable Materials Management will provide the Committee with an update on the Sustainable Materials Management Program
  • Request authorization to revise ordinances related to White Goods and Bulky Items – including amendment of fees, and management of residential move-ins and move-outs

Public Safety and Transportation Committee: The Public Safety and Transportation Committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request discussion regarding the Commuter Rail Communities Coalition and the City of Newton’s participation goals
  • Request discussion of allowing legal two-way bicycle travel on the Commonwealth Avenue Carriage Lane

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet on Thursday, November 7th at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request to rezone 4.5 acres of land as part of the the Riverside MBTA Development proposal to MU3
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval for the Riverside MBTA Development proposal

The Committee will then move into Room 211 to discuss the following agenda items:

  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to subdivide a 29,983 lot into one 15,000 sq. ft. lot and one 14,983 sq. ft. lot requiring a waiver of the lot frontage by 5% and a reduction in the lot area by .114% (17 sq. ft.) at 1957 Beacon Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to expand the existing garage and construct two bedrooms above, creating an FAR of .51 where .41 is allowed and .44 exists at 32 Berkshire Road – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to raze and existing deck and construct an addition on the first floor, creating an FAR of .48 where .42 is allowed and .45 exists at 38 Fenno Road – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to enclose an existing 175 sq. ft. porch and construct a single-story porch addition, increasing the non-conforming lot coverage, decreasing the non-conforming open space and creating an FAR of .56 where .33 is allowed and .53 exists at 262 Otis Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow construction of a one-story addition at the front of the structure, to allow a first floor residential use in a BU1 District, and to extend the non-conforming use and non-conforming front setback at 278-280 California Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request to Rezone three parcels for the Northland Development – See Planning Memo and Memo from Attorney Schlesinger
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval for the Northland Development – See Planning Memo

Zoning and Planning Committee: The Zoning and Planning Committee will meet on Thursday, November 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

Board and Commission Meetings – Week of November 3rd

Planning and Development Board: The Planning and Development Board will meet on Monday, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 204. The agenda includes the following:

  • Approve Minutes from the 9/10, 9/11 and 10/7 Meetings
  • Vote on the Washington Street Vision Plan Revision
  • Discussion of the Riverside Rezoning Update
  • Discussion of the Climate Action Plan/Sustainability Zoning Amendments Update
  • List of Upcoming Meetings:
    • Thursday, November 7 at 6:30 p.m., City Council Chambers, Zoning and Planning Committee, Riverside Zoning Amendments
    • Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m., City Council Chambers, Zoning and Planning Committee, Public Hearing on Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Zoning Ordinance Amendments
    • Thursday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m., City Council Chambers, Land Use Committee, Lexington Street Rezoning Public Hearing (Continuation)

Election Commission Warrant November 5 : Notice for the 2019 Municipal Election can be found here.

Community Preservation Committee: The Community Preservation Committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The agenda includes the following:

  • Program Planning: CPC staff overview of the Newton Community Preservation Program, including current and future financial resources
  • Public Hearing on Webster Woods – 300 Hammond Pond Parkway
    • Presentation by proposal sponsors
    • Public Comments and Questions
    • Proposal Sponsors’ responses to public questions
    • CPC requests for additional information
  • Adjournment

Fair Housing Committee: The Fair Housing Committee will meet on Wednesday, November 6th at 8:00 a.m. in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Letter to Lottery Agents in Newton (SEB LLC and Metrowest) – responses from Mass Housing Partnership
  • Review and possible response to two new Chapter 40B proposals – Dunstan East and Riverdale Avenue/Los Angeles Street
  • Question on whether the Committee should review responses from Human Service providers who receive CDBG funding regarding housing discrimination
  • Discussion on recruiting an attorney who specializes in housing law
  • Other business:
    • Affordable Housing Program Announcement

Newtonville Local Historic District Commission: The Newtonville Local Historic District Commission will meet on Thursday, November 7th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 205. The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness (Violation) – Request to replace some sashes with aluminum clad windows and to keep some of the installed between-the-glass-grille windows that were were replaced with vinyl between the glass grille windows, without Commission review and approval.

The Staff Memo can be found here and the Packet Documents can be found here.

Development Review Team Meetings – Week of November 3rd

The following potential projects/proposals are scheduled to meet with the Development Review Team this week:

  • 858 Walnut Street – Administrative Site Plan Review to establish a day care center
  • 29 Greenwood Street – Special Permit to allow a retaining wall exceeding four feet within the rear and side setbacks
  • unnumbered Greenwood Street lot – Special Permit to allow a retaining wall exceeding four feet within the side setback (
  • Washington and Dunstan Streets – Comprehensive Permit for a mixed use building containing 243 dwelling units and retail space

The Development Review Team Snapshot can be found here.

What’s Up in Newton this week – Revised Riverside, Northland Design Guidelines, Pot shop coming to Auburndale, Halloween, Election Info and more….

Riverside Update: On Friday, Legal Counsel for Mark Development filed revised proposed text amendments to their proposal to amend the MU3/Transit Oriented Zoning Ordinance – reducing the density from 1,234,000 sq. ft. to 1,025,000 sq. ft. of which 60% will be residential and 40% commercial and establishing the maximum heights and minimum setbacks along the Grove Street corridor. The letter to the council and amendments can be found here.

Northland – Design Guideline discussion and continued deliberation on the Northland Zoning and Special Permit/Site Plan Approval request is on the agenda for the Land Use Committee Meeting on Tuesday.

Community Meeting for another pot shop: A community meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 29th at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Post 440, 295 California Street for a proposed retail marijuana shop to be located at 131 Rumford Avenue in Auburndale. The Legal Notice can be found here.

Registration for the 6th Annual Turkey Trot is open! The Turkey Trot will be held on Saturday, November 23rd – Kids 1 mile fun run will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K race will begin at 9:00 a.m. Online registration closes on November 18th but you can register by midnight TONIGHT – October 28th for $25 and be guaranteed a t-shirt (according to the Newton South PTO Community Notes!). Go here for more information and to register.

Public Hearing on NStar – d/b/a/ Eversource filing of Term Report: The Department of Public Utilities will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, October 30th at 2;00 p.m. at the Department’s offices at One South Station, 5th Floor, Boston, MA. Information about the Public Hearing can be found here.

Halloween Safety Reminder: This Thursday is Halloween. Please remember to drive extra, extra carefully as trick-or-treaters will hopefully be out in force dressed in costumes!

Election event: Got questions for municipal candidates? Stop by a drop-in event on November 2nd from 5:00 p.m – 7:00 p.m. at the War Memorial at Newton City Hall. The event is co-sponsored by Green Newton, League of Women Voters of Newton, Mothers Out Front, Newton Council on Aging, Newton Conservators and the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber. Please e-mail  info@lwvnewton.org with any questions.

Do you currently vote at Horace Mann? If your normal voting place is Horace Mann – you should still vote there. Ward 2, Precinct 1 Voters will continue to vote at the Old Horace Mann School even though Horace Mann has moved to Nevada Street. Election and voting information can be found here.


Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market: A Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market will be held on Tuesday, November 26th from 1 – 5 p.m. at the War Memorial at Newton City Hall. You can pre-order from your favorite farmers’ market vendors and pick them up at City Hall on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving! More information about the market and participating vendors can be found here. Thank you Village Bank for your support!

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

What’s up in Newton this week? CIP/5-Year Forecast, Webster Woods, Water Flow Testing, Last Tuesday Farmers’ Market (for the season), Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market, More Election Info, 3rd NewCAL community meeting and more…..

The Capital Improvement Plan and Five-Year Forecast are supposed to be presented at the Full City Council tonight. I didn’t see it on the Committee of the Whole agenda but it is listed on the City Council Calendar here. Last year’s presentation can be found here.

Webster Woods will be the topic of a Committee of the Whole Discussion at TONIGHT’s City Council Meeting BUT because it is for “the purpose of considering the purchase, exchange, lease or value of Webster Woods and strategy with regards to litigation”, the Committee will meet in Executive Session and the public won’t get to hear the details. See Committee of the Whole Agenda.

Water Flow Testing this week. Last week, I reported that the Department of Public Works in partnership with the MWRA would begin testing the City’s water distribution system beginning on October 17th. However, the City’s website now states that testing will begin during the week of October 21st – this week! Residents south of the Mass Pike may experience lower than normal water pressure during this period

This is in preparation for the installation of a new water main near City Hall. The tests are being done in conjunction with work at the MWRA Commonwealth Avenue Pump Station to make major upgrades to the MWRA water system. 

More information can be found here.

Newton Farmers’ Markets: The last Farmers’ Market at Cold Springs Park will be held this Tuesday, October 23rd. Be sure to take advantage and enjoy the Newton Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays at Cold Springs Park from 1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Stop by and pick up fresh veggies, meat, fish, and prepared foods. Go here to see all the vendors coming to the markets and to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Farmers’ Markets be sure to subscribe to their newsletter here.

Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market: A Special Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market will be held on Tuesday, November 26th from 1 – 5 p.m. at the War Memorial at Newton City Hall. You can pre-order from your favorite farmers’ market vendors and pick them up at City Hall on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving! More information about the market and participating vendors can be found here. Thank you Village Bank for your support!

More Election Info:

The Newton Ward 3 Democratic Committee is hosting a Ward 3 Candidates Forum on Thursday, October 24th from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Newton Senior Center. More information can be found here.

Area Council Sponsored Debates continue…..

Wards 5-6
DATE AND TIME: Sunday, October 27, 2019; 2:00–6:00 pm
LOCATION: Zervas Elementary School, Cafeterium 30 Beethoven Ave., Waban

Moderated by Andy Levin

Moderated by Ken Parker

* incumbent

NewCAL Community Meeting: The third in a series of five scheduled community meetings will be held on Thursday, October 24th at 7:00 p.m. in Room 111 at the Ed Center, 100 Walnut Street. Information about the meeting and the NewCAL process can be found here.

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

Special Election Information

REGISTER TO VOTE: The last day to register to vote for the November 5th Municipal Elections is Wednesday, October 16ththe day after my birthday! To verify your voter registration, go here. You can register to vote online here or by mail here or you can also head down to City Hall and register in person.

Sample Ballots for the upcoming elections can be found here.

AREA COUNCIL HOST DEBATES: The Newtonville Area Council, Waban Area Council, Newton Highlands Area Council and the Upper Falls Area Councils are hosting candidate debates beginning this weekend. Click on links to candidate websites and NewTV Candidate Statements – where available. I’ve also included links to the LWVN debates for the different races.

Wards 1-4
DATE AND TIME: Sunday, October 20, 2019; 2:00–6:00 pm
LOCATION: Newton North High School cafeteria, 457 Walnut St., Newtonville

Moderated by Marcus Breen

Moderated by Ken Parker  

Wards 5-6
DATE AND TIME: Sunday, October 27, 2019; 2:00–6:00 pm
LOCATION: Zervas Elementary School, Cafeterium 30 Beethoven Ave., Waban

Moderated by Andy Levin

Moderated by Ken Parker

* incumbent

**Please note: Jake’s colleague on the City Council, Becky Grossman, who is running unopposed for Ward 7 City Councilor at-large, is also running for Congress. Her City Council website can be found here, her Candidate Statement can be found here, and her Congressional Facebook page link can be found here.

The Area councils welcome questions from anyone in Newton in advance. Please submit them to bdarnell@newtonma.gov by TONIGHT – October 15th – (my birthday!!) Videos of the events will air on NewTV and should be available on all our social media platforms within 48 hours of the events.

Here are links to the League of Women Voter debates:

Ward Councilor Debates:

Ward Councilor At-Large Debates:

For other candidate statements (those who are unopposed) go here.

Thank you to NewTV and the League and to all the candidates for your willingness to serve.

What’s Up this Week?

Salary increase standoff: Last week, I reported that the Mayor had vetoed the proposed salary increases approved by the City Council – $155,000 for the Mayor’s salary, $15,500 for the City Council’s salary and $7,750 for the School Committee, claiming that the amount approved by the City Council is excessive and should have been in line with the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation. Well – a vote to override/discuss the veto is on the new docket but requires a suspension of the rules to be accepted to the docket and referred to Committees.

Another Gas Release in Waban/Lower Falls? Yes – Apparently, Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC informed ” … the City that it will be releasing odorized natural gas again in order to perform routine preventative maintenance work at its Valve Site near Walnut Street in Wellesley and Quinobequin Road in Newton near the Washington Street, Route 128 interchange. The release is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 8th at 7AM for a period of 12 hours. There will be another release after the maintenance work i completed sometime before Wednesday, October 16th. When the second release is scheduled, a notice will be released by the City.” Go here for more information.

Newton Farmers’ Markets: The Farmers’ Markets continue but will soon come to a close. Saturday Markets in West Newton are done but there are still a few weeks left for Tuesdays at Cold Springs Park from 1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Stop by and pick up fresh veggies, meat, fish, and prepared foods. Go here to see all the vendors coming to the markets and to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Farmers’ Markets be sure to subscribe to their newsletter here.

Community Outreach Meeting – Retail Marijuna: There will be a community outreach meeting on a proposed retail marijuana establishment (Union Twist) for 1158 Beacon Street on Thursday, October 10th at 6:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 1326 Washington Street. The Meeting Notice can be found here.

Register to VOTE: The last day to register to vote for the November 5th Municipal Elections is Wednesday, October 16th. To verify your voter registration, go here. You can register to vote online here or by mail here or you can also head down to City Hall and register in person.

Sample Ballots for the upcoming elections can be found here.

This week’s Road Construction Schedule – Now Available – go here!

Full City Council Meeting – Monday, October 7th

The Full City Council will meet on Monday, October 7th at 7:45 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The Reports Docket can be found here and the New Docket can be found here.

Note the Council is poised to vote to override the Mayor’s veto on the increase in compensation for the municipal elected officials. As you may recall, the Council voted to approve the following increases:

  • Mayor Compensation – $155,000
  • City Council Compensation – $15,500
  • School Committee Compensation – $7,750

In addition, the Council is scheduled to vote on amending the Community Preservation Committee Ordinance. The draft Council Order can be found here and a Law Department Memo can be found here.