Here’s a letter Rev. Howard Haywood recently wrote to the mayor and city council that a reader shared with Village 14.

To: Mayor Fuller and The City Council

From: Rev. Howard Haywood

RE: The Important Need to Revise Newton Zoning Now

Exactly four years ago I wrote in the TAB about neighborhood opposition to the Austin St development, and how “the character of the neighborhood” and other such expressions fell on me as a Black man who has lived in Newton all my life.

That op-ed can be found here [Wicked Local 1/22/19] and unfortunately, I feel compelled to write again today. The current opposition to the much-needed changes in our zoning have sounded to me like change is to always be avoided, especially if it brings density and new families to Newton.

I remind you of a very interesting look back at what former Mayor Child’s said in his inaugural address. More than 95 years ago, on Jan. 1, 1923, in his Inaugural Address to Newton’s Board of Aldermen and residents, Mayor Edwin O. Childs said ”…I signed the Zoning Ordinance, an ordinance which means much to the city and property owners…. The [prior] first and second ordinances…I vetoed and I have no apologies to make for the actions taken. Both were founded on selfishness….”

Childs went on to say that in this ordinance ”…residential sections are now set off from business and manufacturing, and that is about what most people had in mind when the Zoning Act was accepted by the voters. After all it isn’t so much the sort of house as the people in it [that] makes or breaks a city. All of the good people are not found in single dwellings. After all, it is the character of the citizens that counts and [the] Zoning Ordinance as adopted…will be a great benefit to Newton of the present and the future because it will make it possible for character to have an equal chance with money as our city grows. The important matter is the proper development of the city by the building of homes and what we need in Newton more than anything else is more homes for young married people. I believe that they ought to have the privilege of living in the same city with their parents, if they so desire.

I write to urge you to please approve substantial zoning changes as proposed that will create housing for all in Newton including our teachers, firefighters, social workers and police. A substantial amount of new housing, along with real affordable housing, will make Newton a far better city. You have that ability as leaders to do so. I can only urge you to do so, which I do now.

 The zoning improvements will take us a long way towards a city we can love. The opposition is loud and some comments land as hurtfulI to many of us. I wish I could also assure you that they do not represent the majority view. The people I talk with in Newton want a courageous approach by you to the knee jerk – and frankly too often exclusionary – opposition to density and significant zoning changes..  And so do I.

Thank you,

Rev Howard Haywood

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