Zoning Redesign

Next Meeting:


Ward 3, January 24, 2019 @6:30 p.m.   Second Church or Newton - Parish Hall

60 Highland St., West Newton





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.

First Draft Ordinance

On October 19th, 2018, the planning team released the First Draft Zoning Ordinance and First Draft Zoning Map and presented to the Zoning and Planning Committee of the City Council (ZAP) on October 22nd, 2018.

What's Happening Now?

Since October, the City Council ZAP Committee has been discussing the mechanisms and standards proposed in the first draft at their regular meetings. Materials from those meetings are now available on this website for review. 

The City Council and the Planning Department have also been holding ward-by-ward meetings to discuss the first draft ordinance in the community (see date and location information below). These meetings are intended to introduce the first draft ordinance and open the conversation about the proposed ideas. Once the ward-by-ward meetings conclude, the Planning Department will re-instate office hours for one-on-one and small group discussions. 

All of these discussions, both at the City Council and in the Community, are informing the refinement of proposals for a Second Draft Zoning Ordinance. As of now, the Planning Department is targeting the end of May 2019 for the completion of the second draft. From there, there will be another several months of detailed review by the ZAP Committee of the City Council, and additional opportunities for feedback from members of the Newton community.  

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.govWe 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 Districts and Building Types Deep Dive
 Full Draft Ordinance First Draft Map (pdf)

 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  

Art.7 Overlay and Master Plan Districts Art.8 Development Standards
Art.9 Use Standards Art.10 Non-Conformities  
Art.11 Administration Art.12 Definitions


Ward-by-Ward Meetings

We are working with Newton City Councilors to organize ward-by-ward meetings where members of the community will be invited to review the first draft of the zoning ordinance and map and provide comment.  Below are the Wards that have been confirmed.  If you missed your ward meeting, you are welcome to attend one of the upcoming meetings as well. 

 Ward  Date Location

Poster/  Ward Map

Meeting Notes
1  2/7/19

Ciociaro Club

144 Bridge St.





2  2/28/19






3  1/24/19

Second Church - Parish Hall

60 Highland St.

West Newton




4  3/7/19

 Lower Falls Community Center


545 Grove St.

Newton Lower Falls




5  11/29/18

Angier Elementary School

1697 Beacon St





6  1/10/19

 Mason Rice Elementary School

149 Pleasant St

Newton Centre




7  12/12/18

Church of the Redeemer

60 Highland St.

Chestnut Hill




8  2/13/19

Countryside Elementary School


191 Dedham St.

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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