A part of me wants to go grab a clipboard, head down to the Newton Centre T station, and start soliciting signatures. Send me a t-shirt, Randall Block!

Excuse me, good neighbor. Are you, like me, an advocate for more housing choice in Newton? Can I get you to sign the Right Size Newton petition demanding a referendum on the City Council’s approval of the Northland project?

Sure, from a housing advocate’s perspective, what the Council approved is a great project: 800 new apartments, 17% — 123 apartments — affordable. But, if we force a referendum and we prevail at the ballot, who knows how many apartments we can get. 1000? 1200? It’s a huge site — 22 acres.

Wait. I’m confusing you? How will overturning the City Council approval lead to more, not less housing? Good question.

If the developer can’t get a special permit, they can proceed under a state law that allows them, essentially, to build whatever they want. It’s called 40b, an anti-snob-zoning law. If the developer provides a 20% or more affordable housing, they can basically ignore a city’s zoning ordinances and the city’s review mechanisms, like the special permit process. It’s a huge site. It could easily accommodate a few towers as tall as the Towers at Chestnut Hill. 

You thought that Right Size Newton were against large apartment buildings? So did I.

If Right Size Newton are against large apartment buildings, why do they want a referendum? Why do they want to overturn the special permit and open up the likelihood of even larger apartment buildings? You’ve got me.

But, I’m not in the habit of questioning people’s motives when their actions align with my objectives.

Hey, thanks for signing. Don’t worry about ward and precinct. We’ll add that before submitting the sheet.

Thanks for your time. Have a terrific day!

Pin It on Pinterest