This is my first time running for office. Having an engineer’s problem-solving mind-set could be a useful perspective on the City Council. I read the proposed city wide zoning plans and found major issues. I’m a visual person and the zoning rules just jumped out at me, at a time when few people were raising concerns. The more meetings and public events I attended, I realized there were inconsistencies between the draft zoning ordinance and the city’s stated goals and vision.
In the past year I have had many substantive discussions on zoning with Barney Heath, Newton Planning Director, and others in the Planning Department. Unfortunately, many City Councilors have not found the time to thoroughly read through all the documents or understand the full implications of the proposed zoning changes for Newton.
An appealing and significant vision is laid out in The Newton Pattern Book (page 274, 2018):
“How can a new zoning ordinance address issues of housing affordability and tear-downs? … a new zoning ordinance can aim to limit the impact of this type of project [tear-downs] on a street or neighborhood and prevent redevelopment efforts from fundamentally changing the character of an area….By designing a zoning ordinance that is more in line with and specific to the various neighborhoods of Newton, the city can help ensure that any new development/redevelopment efforts help preserve the scale and character of neighborhoods – particularly in areas of the city that have historically been more affordable.”
Unfortunately, what has been written in the proposed zoning codes so far is inconsistent with the above vision, and in fact would drastically change the fabric of our neighborhoods and villages.
Many residents I have spoken with would like to “preserve the scale and character of neighborhoods.” I’m for reasonable sized development and density with a plan for traffic, schools and infrastructure. The city needs an overall plan too, not just silos like Washington Street, Needham Street or Riverside Vision Plans.
This is a critical time for our city. You need a City Councilor who will pay attention to residents’ concerns. This also means doing the homework, including detailed reading of documents, to understand the issues. I learn quickly. I’m not afraid to speak my mind but I’m also a good listener and can take in feedback. Since I started running, I have learned a great deal from residents like you. I will continue that dialogue after the election.
I want the voters of Newton to know where all the candidates stand so they can decide who will best represent them with their vote for Councilor at Large. I hope you will choose me.