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Zoning Reform

Homes and businesses, streets and parks, public and private spaces; these are the elements that define the physical character of a city. While the City of Newton directly controls the improvement of these public elements, it is mostly through the zoning ordinance that the City has influence on the use and design of private property. The City of Newton last conducted a significant review and update of its zoning ordinance in 1987. In December, 2011, the Zoning Reform Group released a report recommending that changes to the Zoning Ordinance be considered to enhance its usability and bring the regulations into compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. This report described a three phase process with Phase 1 focusing on enhancing the usability of the existing ordinance. 

If you have any questions or comments about the Zoning Reform Project, please contact James Freas, Acting Director of Planning and Development,

News and Updates
At the October 5, 2015 regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen, the Board adopted the updated Zoning Ordinance, which takes effect on November 1, 2015. The adoption of the updated ordinance completes Phase I of the City's Zoning Reform project. The updated ordinance represents the City's first steps to enhance the usability of these regulations by: clarifying ambiguities and inconsistencies; improving legibility through the application of simpler language; use of more illustrations and tables; the creation of use tables to better explain permit processes and standards in each zoning district; using hyperlinked cross-references to increase functionality; and the utilization of a document format to improve legibility and transparency.

In accordance with state law (M.G.L c. 40, §6), the new zoning ordinance shall apply to any building permit or special permit issued after the first date of advertisement, which was September 2, 2015. Generally, the updated ordinance shall not apply to any building permit or special permit issued prior to that date. For more detailed information of applicability, please speak with a representative of the Planning Department or Inspectional Services Department.

The City's updated Zoning Ordinance can be viewed through the hyperlink below or can be purchased from the City Clerk. 

Chapter 30: Zoning Ordinance 

The Look-Up Table below is a cross referencing tool to look up content from the previous version of the City's Zoning Ordinance and see where it can be found in the City's updated Zoning Ordinance.

Meeting Notes, Handouts, and Resources
Use Table for Proposed Updates to Zoning Ordinance 
Zoning Reform Phase 2
Zoning Reform Group, 2011  
Zoning Reform Report, 2011 
Newton Zoning Ordinances 
Newton Comprehensive Plan, 2007 
Zoning Reform Phase 1
Section UL
 Look Up Table (95.8 KB)
 Use Table (492 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (133.6 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (144.2 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (409 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (167.9 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (158.4 KB)
Section UL
 Memo (262.6 KB)
Section UL
 Agenda (111.6 KB)
 Memo (125.1 KB)
Section UL
 Agenda (91.2 KB)
Section UL
 Agenda (114.9 KB)
 Meeting Notes (172.1 KB)
 Working Session Memo (151.1 KB)
 Zoning Assessment Memo (4.61 MB)
Section UL
 Handout - Sample Book (8.17 MB)
 Meeting Notes (173 KB)