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Update #10

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.