We're moving Zoning Redesign to the City of Newton website!

Over the last two years the coUrbanize online platform has helped us hear from hundreds of people about the future of Newton's zoning ordinance. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our online map, shared comments, and provided ideas on the future of the zoning ordinance.

Can I still provide input on the Zoning Ordinance drafts?

Yes! The Zoning Redesign project is actively progressing to a first draft of a new zoning ordinance. There will be lots of opportunities for community members to review and provide input in 2018 and 2019.

What will happen with this site?

This is the last you'll hear from us on our coUrbanize page. The project coUrbanize site will be archived but all the links and information will remain available at the same url address.

Where should I go for future information?

The online presence is moving to www.newtonma.gov/zoningredesign. Go there for all future information about the project and to sign up for occasional email updates.

A New (Draft) Zoning Map for Newton - video and presentation now online

The Zoning Redesign 2017-2018 event series wrapped up last week! Thanks to everyone who attended the May 10, 2018 event - and all nine events in the series.

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the info sheet here

*Summary Report is forthcoming!

Drop in to City Hall on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. to ask more detailed questions of staff, discuss any of the presentations from the event series over the last year, or share your ideas.

More public events will be scheduled later in 2018. Check back on the website and to sign up to receive project emails.

Now Live - Presentation & Video from "What's the Process" April event

Thank you to everyone who attended "What's the Process: How Stuff Gets Built in Newton" on April 12, 2018. Materials from the event are now live!

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the info sheet here

Summary Report here

Drop-In to City Hall Wednesday April 25th, 2018 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Room 106C (directly to the right after entering the main City Hall entrance).

Get ready for our last event in the series, "A New Zoning Map for Newton". At this event we will dive into a new DRAFT zoning map and get feedback from participants. See you there - Thursday, May 10th, 2018 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Newton Free Library.

What's the Process? How Stuff Gets Built in Newton

Coming up on Thursday, April 12th, 2018, please join us at the second-to-last event in our series. Take a look at the infosheet below to preview the event discussion. RSVP here.

Tonight 5-7 p.m. Drop-In / Live materials "Building Shape, Size, Form"

On March 15, 2018 over 70 people attended the event "Building Shape, Size, and Form in Neighborhoods and Village Centers". Thank you to everyone who attended. Materials from the event are now live!

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the summary report here

Read the info sheet here

You're also welcome to come to TONIGHT'S Zoning Redesign Drop In at City Hall from 5 - 7 p.m. Come to Room 106 on the first floor to the right of the main entrance. Meet with staff, share your ideas, and ask questions about past events and upcoming steps in the Zoning Redesign project.

Please join us at our next event on April 12, 2018 "What's the Process? How Stuff Gets Build in Newton" at the Newton Free Library 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. RSVP

Zoning, Arts & Artisans: Presentation + video + guest performance!

Thank you to everyone who came out last night to Tapping the Creative Economy: Zoning, Arts and Artisans! The presentation slides, video of the event are now live. Take a look and enjoy the guest performance from Julianna Walsh, accompanied by Kevin O'Connell of the YCCA Program at the West Suburban YMCA.

The event summary document is now live.

See you at the next Zoning Redesign event Building Shape, Size, and Form in Neighborhoods and Village Centers on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

What are the design principles that make a great village or neighborhood?

Next week we will be discussing Building Shape, Size, and Form in Neighborhoods and Village Centers. Take a peek below at what staff will be presenting and be looking for feedback on. RSVP for the event on Thursday, March 15 from 6:30 - 8:00!

How can Newton's zoning enhance arts & culture?

Join the discussion at our next Zoning Redesign event on Thursday, February 15, "Tapping the Creative Economy: Zoning, Arts, and Artisans". Preview the event topics below and RSVP for the event today!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the January 2018 event on zoning, parking, and transportation. The event summary document is now live. If you missed the event, you can watch a video of the presentation here, see the presentation slides, and read the infosheet.

Transportation & Parking event - Video and Presentation are now live!

Thank you to everyone who came out to last night's event, "A Parking Lot for Goldilocks: Zoning for Just the Right Size".

The presentation slides here and video here are now live and available.

A Summary Report of the community conversations and feedback will be posted shortly.

The first Zoning Redesign Drop-In Office Hours is coming up next week on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Come drop in to City Hall Room 106 to talk with project team members about any of the events in the series, future topics, or the Pattern Book!

and... Get ready for the next Zoning Redesign Event on Thursday, February 15, 2018 "Tapping the Creative Economy: Zoning, Arts, and Artisans"! More information coming soon! RSVP here.

Recap from Housing for Whom? Zoning, Affordability, and Fair Housing

Thanks to everyone who came to the December 14, 2017 event "Housing for Whom? Zoning Affordability and Fair Housing".

Take a look at the event resources below including a summary report of all feedback from the table discussions.

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the summary report here

Read the info sheet here

The Newton Fair Housing Committee supplied these additional resources about Fair Housing at the event:

What's Next?

Join us for the first Zoning Redesign event of 2018. "A Parking Lot for Goldilocks: Zoning for Just the Right Size" is on Thursday, January 18th, 2018 at the Newton Library from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Preview the event topics here. RSVP here.

Now live: Video, slides & summary report from November event!

Over 90 people showed up to "Cracking the Code: Understanding Zoning for Homeowners" on November 29th, 2017. Thanks to everyone who came and participated. Take a look at the event resources below including a summary report of all feedback from the table discussions.

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the summary report here

Read the info sheet here

And....Don't miss the final event of 2017!

We are two days away from the final Zoning Redesign event of 2017. Join us on Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at the Newton Library from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. for "Housing for Whom? Zoning, Affordability, and Fair Housing". Preview the event topics here. RSVP here.

Draft Pattern Book - last call for comments - December 31, 2017!

Thanks to everyone who has sent in comments about the Draft Pattern Book since it was published in May, 2017 and provided comments in person at our drop-in events and Event Series.

Today we received requests to extend the deadline for comments further. Because of these requests and because extending the public comment period to December 31st, 2017 would not materially affect the schedule - we will make that change accordingly.

Send any remaining comments on the Draft Pattern Book to zoningredesign@newtonma.gov by December 31, 2017.

The Draft Pattern Book is available as a pdf here.

It is also available in the cataloged on the Newton Library collection here.

We also received a request for a printed copy at our November 29, 2017 event. Paper copies may be made for $25 ($30 bound). Email us to request a copy.

Last event of 2017! Housing for Whom: Zoning, Affordability, Fair Housing

Join us on Thursday, December 14, 2017 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Newton Free Library. RSVP here.

Preview the discussion topics:

Send us your Pattern Book comments by December 8, 2017 via email zoningredesign@newtonma.gov.

Since May 2017 we have been reviewing the Draft Pattern Book and we are now preparing a final version, based on comments from the community and staff review.

View the Pattern Book online or in print at the Library.

Preview "Cracking the Code: Zoning for Homeowners"

Join us on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Newton Free Library. RSVP here.

Preview the discussion topics:

Summary Reports - live now!

Check out the Summary Reports for past events on Zoning for a Sustainable Newton and Zoning and Economic Development. These reports synthesize the community discussions and feedback staff received.

Thanks to everyone who came to the last event "Newton's Advantage: Zoning and Economic Development"!

Couldn't make it to the event?

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the event info sheet here

What's Next?

Drop-In Office Hours:

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at City Hall Room 106

"Cracking the Code: Understanding Zoning for Homeowners"


Wednesday November 29th, 2017

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Newton Free Library

  • Discussion Topics: massing, additions, accessory buildings, garages, fences, and retaining walls!

Newton's Advantage: Zoning & Economic Development

You're invited to "Newton's Advantage: Zoning and Economic Development" on Thursday October 19, 2017 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Newton Free Library.

Zoning has a significant influence on the success of business in Newton!

Join the discussion as the City looks to:

  • Revise commercial districts and include new uses like co-working space;
  • Re-imagine manufacturing for the current innovation economy;
  • Support Newton residents who have home businesses;
  • Make the sign ordinance easier for businesses to understand and the City to enforce.

RSVP here.

Event Recap: "Think Globally, Act Locally"

Thanks to everyone who came to the event last night "Think Globally, Act Locally: Zoning for a Sustainable Newton"! We had a great turn out and lots of discussion.

Couldn't make it to the event?

Watch the presentation video here

See the presentation slides here

Read the event info sheet here

Register for "Newton's Advantage: Zoning and Economic Development" event on Thursday, October 19th, 2017.

Your 'Cliffs Notes' for Zoning

Want to know all the basics of "Zoning 101" before we dive into different zoning topics? Here's your Cliffs Notes for zoning --- but don't worry --- there is no test!

Come join the conversation next week "Think Globally, Act Locally: Zoning for a Sustainable Newton" on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at Newton Free Library. RSVP here.

Think Globally Act Locally Zoning & Sustainability

The Zoning Redesign project is the first comprehensive look at updating and improving Newton’s Zoning Ordinance in more than 60 years. This presents an opportunity to better align Newton’s core value of environmental sustainability with best practices in regulation to achieve climate resilience, clean water, and quality of our environment.

On Wednesday, September 27th a Zoning Redesign event series will launch with “Think Globally, Act Locally: Zoning for a Sustainable Newton”. The planning team will present proposals for a stormwater ordinance, green building design and renewable energy/energy efficiency, among other sustainability in zoning topics. The series will run through May 2018. Each event is about a different topic and will be held at Newton Free Library, 300 Homer St. from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 

Save the date and RSVP!

Event Series coming to Newton Library in September

Thank you for all your participation in Newton's Zoning Redesign Project. We have received a great deal of comments on what people value about Newton's built form and land uses, and some great ideas on how Newton can evolve over time with a new zoning ordinance.

Your comments plus extensive data analysis helped shape the draft Pattern Book, which was released in May 2017. The Pattern Book serves as the primary analysis of the city's built patterns and as the basic framework atop which a new, context-based zoning ordinance will take shape.

Now the project is moving into its next phase - a series of community conversations about various zoning topics. Each event will be an opportunity to discuss desired outcomes for a different topic in order to develop the zoning mechanics to achieve those outcomes.

Save the dates and RSVP! You'll also get an event calendar in your upcoming City sewer and water bill. We look forward to your participation in these discussions.

Summer Edition! Zoning Redesign Drop-In Sessions

We are continuing our Zoning ReDesign Drop-In Sessions, Summer Edition!

Drop-in on Wednesdays June 21, July 19, August 16 and August 30 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Come by City Hall to share your ideas with staff, and ask questions about the City’s project to redesign the zoning ordinance. Location is Room 106 (enter City Hall through Main Entrance and Room 106 is immediately on the right), 1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton.

Everyone welcome! Contact James Freas jfreas@newtonma.gov with questions. 

Newton Library: read the Pattern Book in print

The Newton Library has a new addition to their collection - the draft Pattern Book. Take in all 290+ pages at the library, 330 Homer St., Newton, MA 02459.

The book is cataloged on the Newton Library collection here.

You can always read the draft Pattern Book as a pdf here. Happy reading!

Missed the workshop? Watch the live presentation

Missed the Zoning Redesign Workshop on May 11th, 2017? Watch a video of the event here and check out the presentation slides here.

The draft Pattern Book is now launched and the project is transitioning to writing the new zoning ordinance.

Join in the conversation at our Zoning Redesign Drop-In sessions. On Wednesday May 17th and Wednesday May 31st from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. come to City Hall Room 106C to dig deeper into the Pattern Book and topic areas of the new zoning ordinance.

Hot off the press!

Today we are releasing a full draft of the Pattern Book.

This draft Pattern Book—one of the primary components of Phase 2 of Zoning Reform—serves as the primary analysis of the city’s built patterns and as the basic framework from which a new, context-based zoning code will take shape.

The Pattern Book is intended to capture the character of Newton’s neighborhoods and village centers at a moment in time while recognizing that the city will continue to grow and change. In addition, the pattern book is intended to be used as a resource for decision-makers, property owners, developers, and designers working outside the formal zoning approvals process who aim to make informed choices on the design, siting, and uses of new development with respect to its compatibility with existing contexts.

Going forward, the planning team will work with City Council to create new zoning districts based on what is learned from these patterns and will establish rules and procedures for new development that respect and respond to the adjacent forms, dimensions, and general characteristics that make up a neighborhood.

Please join us next week on Thursday, May 11th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. for a public Zoning Redesign Workshop at Wilson Chapel at Andover Newton, 234 Herrick Rd. At that event we will engage with the draft Pattern Book, conduct a visual preference survey, and look ahead to the next phase of the project: drafting the new zoning ordinance. RSVP here.

Mark Your Calendars!

Please join us at the Zoning Redesign Workshop on May 11th at Wilson Chapel at Andover Newton. This event is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the future of zoning in Newton. Can't make it? Post your questions or comments on our map!

Here's what's happening:

  • We'll be presenting the full draft of the Pattern Book, a data-driven analysis of Newton's built environment
  • Looking ahead to the next phase of the project
  • Engaging with three tracks of the new zoning ordinance
  • Discussing proposed goals of the new zoning ordinance

When: Thursday May 11th at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Wilson Chapel, Andover Newton, 234 Herrick Rd., Newton

RSVP: here

Hope to see you there!

Do you want to preview the draft Pattern Book?

Check out the draft Pattern Book's initial pages. See some of our work in progress, initial maps, and analysis of Newton's development patterns. This presentation was given to the Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP) on March 13 by Sasaki Associates.

We will be back at ZAP on Wednesday April 12 to show the full draft Pattern Book.

Have an idea on the go? Text us!

We've just launched an exciting new way to get your feedback on the Newton Zoning Redesign Project! Look for 15 different signs like these posted around town showing numbers to text with ideas about how we use land and buildings. The questions contain a little bit of local trivia, too.

Your texts will post in real time to our comments map and help to shape the vision for Newton's future. We want to hear from you!

If you don’t have a mobile phone or aren't comfortable texting, you can always add your comment to the map online at courb.co/newton. You can also call the Planning Department and share your thoughts with us at (617) 796-1120.

Meeting cancelled due to snow closure

The Zoning and Planning Committee will not be meeting tonight. City Hall is closed due to snow conditions.

Please continue to follow project updates online and attend our next event, date to be determined.

Project Update to Zoning & Planning Committee

The project team has been hard at work these past few weeks. We want to give you an update and share our progress with you. Come to the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on Monday to hear about the analysis methods we are using to formulate the Pattern Book.

WHEN: Monday February 13, 2017 at 7:45pm

WHERE: Room 205, City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton

And - thank you to everyone who has been sharing your ideas about Newton's built form on the map. Keep it up! In early March we will be rolling out a new way you can engage.

Summary of Open House

We have published a Summary document of the Pattern Book Open House in December. Click here for the full document or read a snapshot below:

"Overall, the event was well attended, with approximately 100 members of the Newton community visiting consistently over the course of the workshop’s eight hours. While conversation over the course of the two days ranged from the conceptual (the aspirations of Newton and the value of zoning in helping the community achieve such aspirations) to the technical (particular issues with the existing zoning ordinance and potential methodologies for a new policy), the focus of the open house was the Newton pattern book. As such, the open house was organized around six stations—each of which explained and sought input about a particular component of this effort.

One station, Newton's Context Areas, led the project team to learn more about how the Newton community understands the boundaries of the various neighborhoods and village centers. While there were a wide variety of factors mentioned by participants, the predominant factor community members expressed to determine their own neighborhood context was the nearest village center.

In discussing the merits of a transition from a typical land use-based code to a context-based methodology, the project team discovered most community members were confused by the complexity and calculations found in the existing zoning ordinance but could easily understand the concept and principles underlying the character/context-based methodology.

The idea of established “transition zones” in the reformed zoning code was an appealing one to community members. Transition zones aim to carefully and intentionally negotiate the scale of development between village centers (typically denser and taller) and residential neighborhoods (typically less dense and shorter). Participants understood how this regulatory tool could prevent the kind of mismatch of scale between adjacent buildings that they considered undesirable.

Community members often had questions pertaining to infill development within the city’s neighborhoods and village centers. Participants identified examples of recent infill development they considered desirable, and others they considered undesirable. They were also curious how the reformed zoning code could prevent the bad and permit the good without being overly prescriptive and complex. Participants were also curious about what regulatory/administrative tools and processes would be in place to support the reformed zoning ordinance to ensure that new development is achieving the community’s desired form for its respective context area."

To read the full Summary document go here.

Thanks for coming out!

Thank you to all who made it out to the Pattern Book Open House this month. We had great interest and participation from over 100 Newton residents who stopped by. We will be uploading a summary of the comments we received at each station very soon.

In a few months our team will be back in touch with details about the next public workshop. At that time, we will present more details and draft material from the Pattern Book and ask Newton community members to review our work, ask more questions, submit comments, and help make decisions about the patterns comprising Newton's many neighborhoods and villages.

Until then, keep adding your thoughts to the Map - your ideas are helping to shape the Pattern Book!

The Open House is Open!

Good afternoon, Newtonians! We've set out the cookies, dusted off the historic artifacts, and fired up our virtual map. The Newton Zoning Redesign Open House is officially underway! Come on down to the Newton Innovation Center (124 Vernon St.) before 5pm today or between noon and 4pm tomorrow to take a look at Newton's past and help create its future. If you can't make it in person, feel free to drop a few more comments on the online map. Have a great weekend!

Kick Off Questions Answered: Pattern Book

We received some questions from you about the Pattern Book at our Kickoff Event in October. Here are some answers in preparation for the Pattern Book Open House this weekend.

Come stop by Pattern Book Open House this weekend December 3 & 4 at the Newton Innovation Center, 124 Vernon St. RSVP here. Saturday 1:00-5:00pm & Sunday 12:00-4:00pm. Parking map is available here.

1) How will the Pattern Book help to ensure that future development/redevelopment within Newton is in scale and character with the city's existing development?

The pattern book, once completed, will be a catalog of development types within Newton. It will be specific to the unique character and scale of each of the city’s neighborhoods and will serve as a guidebook for new development and redevelopment within Newton. Through the Zoning Redesign’s robust community engagement campaign, members of the Newton community will have a chance to provide input on which observed patterns best represent the community and should be carried forward as models for new development. The Newton community will also be invited to provide feedback on the location of new zoning districts which will provide rules and regulations for new development. In addition to cataloging Newton’s observed patterns of development, the pattern book will also showcase aspirational development patterns carefully selected and curated by the planning team for the consideration of the community. Patterns best representing the desired character of Newton’s neighborhoods and village centers will be included in the final pattern book, which will ultimately inform the redesigned zoning ordinance.

2) How will the Pattern Book be developed?

The development of the pattern book will involve several conferences with local officials and stakeholders, community tours, research, documentation, evaluation of properties and building forms, and extensive dialogue with residents about Newton’s character and aspirations. Following the analysis stage and the launch of the public process involved in the development of the pattern book, Sasaki will begin to categorize built patterns of development around the city and organize these patterns into new zoning districts, which will reflect the existing built landscape throughout the city. New district lines will incorporate findings from the team’s analysis, community feedback and preferences, existing planning initiatives and strategies, and knowledge of best practices in planning and design. Once patterns are understood and new zoning districts are organized to fully and accurately represent Newton’s existing development, each will be defined and illustrated to convey the attributes and character that make it unique. This analysis will include text, diagrams, and dimensional tables that describe the representative features of the city’s development areas.

3) How will the Pattern Book be used to inform the reformed zoning ordinance and to guide new development/redevelopment within Newton?

A context-based zoning ordinance is different from a traditional zoning ordinance in that it looks to the city’s existing development patterns for guidance on how to steer new development. The first step in understanding the development typologies and patterns that exist throughout the Newton community is analyzing and cataloging these patterns into the pattern book. Once this catalog is established and the Newton community has made decisions on which patterns should serve as models for future development/redevelopment efforts, an ordinance will codify these findings and refer back to the pattern book for the typological standards that will regulate development within specific neighborhoods and zoning districts. The two documents will work in tandem to ensure that the evolution of Newton is in keeping with the city’s unique and celebrated character.

Pattern Book Open House

December 3 & 4, 2016
Saturday 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm

Newton Innovation Center
124 Vernon St., Newton MA 02458
RSVP (see parking map of the area below)

A two-day open house about zoning in Newton. Stop by for an hour or more! Learn how context-based zoning can identify areas for preservation, enhancement, and transformation in Newton. Preview initial Pattern Book findings. Engage with historic Newton materials. Participate in a visual preference survey. Identify context areas with an interactive map.

Join Sasaki on a Pattern Book Walk

Join Sasaki Associates on a Pattern Book Walk as they collecting data about the physical form of Newton. Hear first hand about the pattern book methodology and walk one of five tour routes. Meet on the Newton Centre Green by the Parking Lot. Be ready to walk!

Monday, November 7, 2016 - 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Meet at Newton Centre Green

Pattern Book updates & save the date

Save the Date for the Pattern Book Open House. It will be running from December 2nd to December 3rd – make plans to stop by during that time to see what’s going on and contribute your ideas.

Go to the Info tab of our website to check out some pattern book case studies from other cities like Denver, CO (see image below) and Grand Rapids, MI.

Be sure to add your comments about Newton to the interactive map - we need your input! What's great, what's missing, and what could be better about different parts of Newton?

Thanks for coming to our Kickoff Event!

Thank you to everyone who came out to our Zoning Redesign Kickoff Event October 5, 2016. Over 75 people came to learn more about the goals and scope of the project.  We had three interactive stations: Zoning 101; Context-Based Zoning & Newton's Pattern Book; and Community Engagement & Courbanize.  We recorded the presentation - if you weren't able to join us please take a look and view the slides.

Join us at the Zoning Redesign Kickoff event!


The City of Newton is using this platform to help you easily find project plans, documents, and changes in the Zoning Reform Phase Two project status. Follow the project to receive email notifications about new updates and visit the Comments section to share your questions, comments, and ideas with us.