Throughout the Northland Development process, a number of Councilors have referred to their “quasi-judicial role” regarding Special Permits.  For those unsure what that meant, this recent Opinion piece in the Boston Globe written by a member of the Newton Law Department makes it crystal clear.
Specifically of concern is this statement…
As you all know, City Councilors serve broadly in a legislative/political role but also act in a quasi-judicial manner when deciding special permit/site plan approval petitions.  When acting as the special permit granting authority and reviewing proposed projects, the City Council is acting in a judicial role and NOT VOTING ON BEHALF OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS.
If you have ever attended a Land Use Committee meeting and listen to each Councilor speak to certain issues and topics related to development, the eye (and ear) test confirms that each are leaning towards one side or another.  Even the (2) New(ton) PACs recently created, are grouping one set of Councilors vs another based on where each are perceived to lean regarding Development.
The City Council are first and foremost elected officials, at the most intimate and accessible level of government.  Asking them to be 100% impartial is a difficult, if not impossible and UNFAIR – to all parties involved – the Councilors and their constituents.  The process is ripe for change, to something more realistic and attainable.

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