The Newton Planning Department's Most Recent Draft
The proposed new zoning ordinance consists of an evolving draft code document AND a draft zoning map that shows the different Zoning Districts in Newton. Zoning Districts are discrete areas in Newton where different zoning specifications apply.
These drafts will eventually become a code document and a zoning map that are planned to be submitted to a City Council vote in late 2021. If passed, and unchallenged by a voter referendum or lawsuit, the submitted code document and map will become the law in Newton. Consequently, the single most important thing for Newton residents and property owners to do is to familiarize themselves with the actual written code and map that are being proposed in draft form. This chapter supplies the links to the most recent proposed draft code documents and map, as well as the current ordinance and map. These are the most recent drafts and current versions as of 11/10/20.
Latest Draft of Article 3: Residence Districts
The Planning Department is not releasing clean, standalone, and unambiguous draft versions of the Article 3 code that can be easily accessed by the public; Instead, heavily marked-up sections of Article 3 code are released within other documents that are not labelled as containing the code sections. More frustratingly, parts of these code sections are then superseded by subsequently released sections in ways that must be figured out by the reader. This means that the reader must then parse together separate releases to get the most recent total version. And finally, the single most important proposed change in the zoning is ambiguous. Specifically, the 8/7/20 Article 3 version release states that the residential units in House Types A,B, or D are a "Maximum of (1 or 2) Residential Unit." Changing the maximum units from 1 unit to 2 units in the single-family House Types A,B,D would mean that two-family homes are allowed by-right in all of Newton Residential Zoning Districts. This would be a very dramatic change to be discussed by the Public. BUT - the 8/7/20 Article 3 does not "exactly" say that change is occurring; Instead, the Article appears to be deliberately ambiguous by stating a "Maximum of (1 or 2) Residential Unit." rather than "a Maximum of 2 units," which would mean two-family housing by right in all of Newton.
The lack of clean, standalone, and unambiguous, Article 3 Drafts is, in newtonrezoning.org's opinion, the worst of the many problem's with Newton's rezoning public process. A request has been sent to the City Council to fix this problem by releasing clean, standalone, and unambiguous, draft versions of Article 3 than can be easily identified and read by the public. The public may also want to make this request. As it stands now, the public will probably not see a clean, standalone, and unambiguous, version of Article 3 until right before the Zoning and Planning Committee takes their (non-binding) straw vote on accepting Article 3, too late for the public to provide meaningful feedback.
To help with reading the code in its current fragmented state, NewtonRezoning.org provides the following for each code section release: A direct link to the Planning Department document where the code is embedded along with the page numbers of the proposed code version; A pdf extract of the code without the surrounding document; A best-guess estimate of what is still active in the code sections and what has been superseded by a later released sections. For Article 3: Residence Districts, here are the three section releases that must be parsed together to see the most recent total version of Article 3: Residence Districts:
- [8/7/20 Draft] Planning Department Document (Code is on pages 11-56) or NewtonRezoning.Org Extract. A complete version of Article 3: Residence Districts, BUT district dimensional standards/building types/building components superseded by 9/11/20 Version, and Sections 3.4 and after superseded by 9/24/20 version. Note that the 8/7/20 version is the first version to allow two-family homes, by-right, in House Types A,B,D - meaning by-right two-family homes in all Residential Districts - although this is ambiguously specified. And it is also the first version to allow by right multi-unit conversion of up to 6 units in House Types A,B,C in all Residential Districts.
- [9/11/20 Draft] Planning Department Document (Code is on pages 13-36) or NewtonRezoning.Org Extract. A new (slightly revised) version of residence district dimensional standards/building types/building components.
- [9/25/20 Draft] Planning Department Document (Code is on pages 16-27) or NewtonRezoning.Org Extract. New versions of Sections 3.4 onwards, including residential parking specifications.
A summary table of the differences between the current zoning code and the proposed code for single-family and two-family houses can also be found at Newton Rezoning and Newton's Non-Condo Single-Family and Two Family Homes. These differences were parsed together from the current zoning code and the above three code segment releases (8/7/20, 9/11/20, 9/25/20).
Most Recent Draft of Proposed Zoning Map
Here is a Planning Department Latest (4/2/20) Proposed Map. This is a general map of Newton showing the locations of the proposed districts. There is also an Prior (10/2018) Proposed Interactive Map NewtonMa.Gov Link that allows the user to look up their individual address and its current and proposed zoning district (excluding proposed new R4 zoning district).
NewtonRezoning.org obtained the single and two-family address-specific current/proposed districts and House Types with Public Record Requests. These can be viewed in the Newton Rezoning and YOUR Home interactive calculator for non-condo properties.
Most Recent Draft Zoning Ordinance Besides Article 3
The Newton Planning Department first introduced the first of draft of the entire proposed new ordinance on 10/22/18. This draft code included a new Article 3: Residence Districts, but it also contained 11 other new articles, including Article 10: Non-Conformities and Articles 6: Single Purpose Districts. The Zoning and Planning Committee still intends to include some version of these other Articles in the final proposed new ordinance to be voted on by the City Council the late 2021, although, so far, only Article 3: Residence Districts has changed since the 10/22/2018 version was introduced.
Latest Version of Current Zoning Ordinance and Map
Newton's Current Zoning Ordinance was last updated on 11/05/20.
Newton's Official Zoning Map was last updated in December 2019. An electronic visual depiction of this latest version could not be found on the NewtonMa.gov, however. Instead here is The most recent visual depiction found from 10/19/2018.