Deborah Crossley, Ward 5 councilor-at-large and chair of Newton’s Zoning and Planning Committee, refuted claims that the city hasn’t been transparent about its rezoning process and doesn’t have materials available online for the public during the committee’s meeting on Thursday night.
“If anybody asks you or suggests that somehow this is closeted, it’s absolutely not true,” she said. “Everything is available for public viewing and we are getting comments all the time … I’ve lived here for 38 years. This is the most overt and extensive outreach the city has ever done on any topic.”
Last April, the committee published version 2.0 of the maps that will eventually update the zoning laws of the city’s village centers, which have not received any major zoning updates in over 30 years.
The zoning update process, which began in April 2021, will conclude at the end of 2023, according to the city’s website.
During the rezoning process, Ward 2 Councilor-at-Large Tarik Lucas expressed concerns about which villages the committee considers regarding specific amendments council members consider. He cited approvals to remove multi-residential transit zones in Newton Centre but a lack of progress in Newtonville.
“These amendments that I presented on Walnut Street are clear, and they are in the city’s comprehensive plan, and we are just completely ignoring … myself and [Emily Norton, Ward 2 councilor], who also supported these amendments as well,” Lucas said.
Lucas said his issue is not about competing but about being considerate and abiding by the city’s comprehensive plan.
Crossley said there is no competition between villages and this issue is one the committee could take up at a later date.
“We’re trying to do what’s best for each village center and the committee vote is a straw vote … if there are amendments left to deliberate at full council, which I fully expect there will be, we can take them up there,” she said. “But, we should not be wasting our time talking about competing from one village to another.”
The committee also refined proposed zoning maps set to become public next week at the meeting.
“For the immediate future, what we’re doing right now and continue to do today and Monday is to continue to refine the maps,”Crossley said. “So anything that we vote—on a temporary basis of straw votes—at tonight’s meeting will be reflected in a version 3.0 that is going to go out next week immediately after we finish our meeting on Monday night.”
The Zoning and Planning Committee will discuss the rezoning of the villages of Nonantum, Newton Corner, and Auburndale in its upcoming meeting on Monday night.