Why can’t we stop all this development?
That seems to be the main question Aldermen will face Tuesday night as they vote on a proposal to down-load an oddly-shaped piece of Newton Centre and consider the proposal to halt the Austin Street development later on.
Many Newton residents bemoan the tear-down of small houses and the creation of huge replacements, but Newton Centre seems to feel particularly afflicted, although if you read the Planning Department’s analysis, it isn’t borne out. But by restricting multi-family homes that close to a T-stop (1/4 mile), they push the demand for housing into areas further from transit (like Wells Ave. Try to get a bus or train there). The city or the T will then have to create costly new transit opportunities, or accept that everyone will have to drive to every destination–not a sustainable future, even if all cars run on solar electricity tomorrow. One reason the Comprehensive Plan calls for more density in village centers, near transit and shops, is that it allows for economic vitality without the need for acres of car storage, widening streets for more cars, or living with massive traffic jams.
Paul McMorrow recently opined on the need for more taxpayers to support the infrastructure in the Boston area. That holds for Newton, too. But as a pretty built-out area, our opportunities are few. Diminishing them in walkable areas with down-zoning is bad for Newton’s bottom line-both the city budget and the merchants in our village centers, who need the foot traffic to stay viable.