Zoning Redesign






The City of Newton is rewriting and redesigning its Zoning Ordinance.  Newton’s current zoning was last changed in 1987 and needs to be redesigned to reflect current best practices and to better protect the characteristics of this city that make it a great place to live. The goal is to create an easily understood ordinance that preserves what is best about Newton and is, at the same time, forward thinking.


 A Message from Mayor Fuller

Final Draft Zoning Ordinance Deadline Extended

Please know that I have asked the Planning Department to extend the timeline for their delivery of a final draft zoning ordinance to the City Council to the calendar year 2020.

My decision was made for two reasons. First, we recently concluded the 1st draft Zoning Redesign ward-by-ward meetings and listened carefully; we know we have considerable work to do on the second draft to ensure we have the right rules in place to direct the future development of our community. Second, we have a sizeable work load in our Planning Department for the rest of this calendar year. This includes important and time-sensitive planning work reviewing the Northland Special Permit application, a Vision Plan and anticipated special permit application for Riverside, updating our inclusionary zoning provisions, developing and presenting a Climate Action Plan, and completing work on the Vision Plan and associated zoning for Washington Street. I am confident the Planning Department can ably complete these initiatives in 2019 if we extend zoning redesign into 2020. 

Read my letter to the City Council here.

We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming meeting or office hours. Questions, comments, and thoughts are always welcome via email at zoningredesign@newtonma.gov. We thank you in advance for your patience, due to the high volume of emails received, it may take a few weeks to provide a response if one is requested. 

Key Materials

the following section is a work in progress...

 The First Draft Ordinance The First Draft Map  Discussion Materials from City Council Meetings Deep Dive Materials

Full Draft Ordinance

Also available in the library

First Draft Map (pdf)

Also available in the library

Click Here to review materials from the City Council meetings



  • staff introductory memos
  • presentations
  • meeting summary memos

Click Here to dive deeper into the zoning districts and building types



  • case studies
  • district info sheets
  • building type info sheets
  • district and building type comparison table
Art.1 Introduction Art.2 General Standards  Interactive Comparison Map 

Art.3 Residence Districts

Art.4 Village Districts
Art.5 Public Use and Recreation Districts  Art.6 Single Purpose Districts

Static Comparison Map

Also available in the library

Art.7 Overlay and Master Plan Districts Art.8 Development Standards
Art.9 Use Standards Art.10 Non-Conformities Link to library materials call number
Art.11 Administration Art.12 Definitions


Ward-by-Ward Meetings

Thank you to all who attended the ward-by-ward meetings, asked questions, and provided feedback on the first draft ordinance. The presentations from those meetings are available below. 

 Ward  Date/Time Location

Poster/  Ward Map

Meeting Notes


6:30 - 8:00 pm

Ciociaro Club






6:30 - 8:00 pm

Carr School





6:30 - 8:00 pm

Second Church

West Newton





6:45 - 8:15 pm

Burr Elementary Auburndale





6:30 - 8:00 pm

Angier School






6:30 - 8:00 pm

 Mason Rice School

Newton Centre





6:30 - 8:00 pm

Church of the Redeemer

Chestnut Hill





6:30 - 8:00 pm

Countryside School

Newton Highlands






The City Council’s Zoning Reform project began in 2011, a Zoning Reform Group was tasked by the Mayor and Board of Alderman to develop a plan for reforming Newton's zoning ordinance. Phase One of the zoning reform project was completed in 2015, which successfully reorganized the existing ordinance making it easier to understand, but it did not alter the content of the ordinance.

The Department of Planning & Development has been hearing from residents and land owners about a few things that we believe could be addressed with context-based zoning:

  • Tear Downs.  Concern from residents when property owners demolish homes that are usually smaller and older and replace them with much larger homes that may be out of context with the surrounding neighborhood, but are allowable under the current zoning.
  • Special Permits.  Some changes to homes require special permits, which can be a challenging process for the applicant and for the neighborhood. 
  • Enforcement.  Currently, the zoning ordinance is difficult to understand and makes compliance and enforcement less clear for residents.
  • Unpredictability.  Residents are surprised by what’s allowed and have commented to staff that there is little predictability.

Pattern Book

Newton's Pattern Book was released online on October 19, 2018. The Pattern Book marks an important step in the process to create the First Draft of the proposed Zoning Ordinance.  Along with the book is a database that has enabled the Planning Department to build a first draft based on the Newton specific data.  Thank you to everyone who submitted comments on the Draft Pattern Book since 2016. These comments and responses are posted here.


Project Materials & Past Events

Zoning Updates to ZAP

As part of the overall Zoning Redesign Project, the Planning Department is writing regular updates to the Zoning and Planning Committee. Updates include general information on zoning and related topics. 

Presentation to ZAP, March 13, 2017

Go to the past project website to see 2016 - 2018 updates.

Archive ~Pattern Book Development

Archive ~ Zoning Redesign Event Series

Archive ~ Zoning Reform Phase One

Archive ~ Zoning Reform Group Report-2011


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