ARCHIVED: Newton Rezoning and YOUR Home
[This is the prior 12/13/20 version. Link to current version.]
This chapter presents an interactive calculator that allows the user to view the current and proposed zoning, as well as the nonconformity under the proposed zoning, for 98% of the non-condo detached single-family and two-family homes in Newton. The calculator also allows residents to check the often incorrect Pattern Book footprint and setback measurements against the knowledge of their properties, including land surveys they may have. Note that these footprint and setback measures were ostensibly used by the Planning Department to specify the new proposed dimensional standards, and the footprints were used to set the individual House Types, so accuracy is important. House data is displayed by street or street section for large streets. To change the data display, select a street (or street section for large streets) from the YELLOW DROPDOWN MENU in the calculator. If an address contains a dash, it will appear at the end of the addresses on a street. If your home does not appear, read about home exclusions below.
Sasaki, Inc. was the Pattern Book consultant for the Newton Planning Department. Zoning District assignments, House Type assignments, and Sasaki 2016 GIS setback and footprint measurements in the calculator were taken from the Sasaki GIS data used in the Planning Department's 2019 Build-Out Analysis, supplemented by the later R4 District assignments. All data was obtained through Public Record Requests.
To be clear, the calculator's use of Sasaki measurements is NOT AN ENDORSEMENT of the Sasaki measurements, which had many negative or zero values and did not always match the land surveys they were tested against. Furthermore, the Sasaki Footprint dimensions were often very different than the Assessors Database "Ground Floor" dimensions, also shown in the table. When this Sasaki footprint is larger, this may be because the Sasaki Footprint contains attached garages and the ground floor does not. Sometimes, however, the Sasaki footprint is smaller, and it is unclear why. The discrepancies with regard to the Land Surveys have been brought to the attention of the Planning Department several times, but they have not responded. If other, more accurate, setback measures become available, these will be used in the calculator. Residents may also want to bring their own property's Sasaki measurement discrepancies to the attention of the Zoning and Planning Committee. Note that in the calculator, Sasaki negative values were set to zero.
HOME EXCLUSIONS: In the Newton Assessors Database, there are approximately 19,809 non-condo single-family and two-family homes in Newton, a count which excludes exempt properties and two-family condos. Homes are further excluded in the calculator, however, if they A) are not in a residential district in both current and proposed zoning, B) were a single-family in the Newton Assessors Database, but did not receive an A, B, C, or D House Type Assignment, C) were attached, D) were in the group of 13 two-family "multiple houses on one parcel" where NewtonRezoning.org found it too difficult to identify their type. This resulted in a calculator population of 19,497 homes in the calculator which is 98.4% of single-family and two-family homes.
HOUSE TYPE ASSIGNMENTS OUTSIDE OF ALLOWED DISTRICT: About 1/3 of House Type A assignments and 2/3 of House Type D Assignments occurred outside of R1 which is the only district where A and D are allowed by right. In all cases the Dimensional Standards (footprint and story number) of the assigned House Type were used to measure conformity, even for House Types not allowed in a district. Otherwise, it was felt that Planning would have assigned a different House Type if they meant to allow a smaller footprint.
FAMILY DUPLEX STYLE HOMES: In Version 3 of Article 3, side-by-side two families were no longer a valid two-unit House Type. There are (approx.) 277 side-by-side two-family homes, termed "Family Duplex" in the Newton Tax Assessors database. NewtonRezoning.org was not totally sure how to include these in the calculator. We called them "NoSP:FD" for "No Specification Family Duplex," and gave them a footprint allowance of two townhouses. This approach might change in the future, but it was our best guess for now.
There are two worksheets in the calculator. The top "Nonconformity" worksheet contains current and proposed zoning districts, house type assignments, and Sasaki measurements - with nonconforming results highlighted in red. The bottom "DimStds" sheet contains the current and proposed dimensional standards. Users can toggle between the sheets using the top tabs.