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Newton Aldermen Approve Zoning for Riverside Station Site

The zoning amendment has certain requirements, including a number of space constraints for buildings on the site.

The Newton Board of Aldermen last night gave its approval to a zoning change that would allow for a potential mixed-use development at the Riverside Station site on Grove Street. 

After months of debate and work on the zoning language, the board approved the item 21-0, with Ward 4 Alderman-at-Large Amy Sangiolo abstaining. Aldermen Carleton Merrill and Mitchell Fischman were absent. 

"I want to commend the Zoning and Planning Committee and the Ward 4 aldermen for their hard work on the Riverside item," Ward 2 Alderman-at-Large and Zoning and Planning Chairman Marcia Johnson said at last night's meeting. "We came up with a much better amendment than what we started out with."

Developer BH Normandy that includes more than 200,000 square feet of office space, roughly 20,000 square feet of retail, a large garage, and 290 housing units (about 320,000 square feet).

But before the developer can make any official proposal or apply for any special site permits, the zoning on the property had to be changed.

Since January, the Zoning and Planning Committee has been working on the language for the zoning amendment, which would create what is called a "Mixed-Use 3/Transit Oriented District" that would allow the development of the mixed-use (retail, residential, business and transit) site.

The approved zoning language includes a number of stipulations and size restrictions including:

  • Limit development to no more than 225,000 square feet of office in one building (If the developer agrees to create direct access to Route 128, this can increase to 250,000 square feet)
  • No more than 290 residential units in up to two buildings
  • 20,000 square feet of retail and other commercial uses
  • Medical offices will only be allowed on the site with a special permit
  • Required minimum of 15 percent beneficial open space
  • Maximum building height of 135 feet
  • Maximum floor-area ratio of 2.4 - FAR regulates the amount of gross floor area that can be built on a site. It is the building's floor space divided by the area of its lot. (If the developer agrees to create direct access to Route 128, FAR can increase to 3.0)
  • A number of pre- and post-construction studies should be done on traffic impact, water/sewer impact, and fiscal impact etc.
  • New parking standards created and a shared-parking study should be done

At its meeting on Mon., April 9, the Zoning and Planning Committee voted 7-0-1 in favor of the zoning item (Sangiolo abstained during the vote, as she may be considered an abutter). 

The committee and full board also voted in favor of a separate, related item that would increase some of the size requirements if the developer agreed to build direct access from the site to Route 128 (see numbers above).

Last month, a public hearing was held on the zoning amendment and about the size of the site and the potential traffic impacts. 

 and after some negotiations and community feedback, the size of the site has been reduced from an original proposal of 1.5 million square feet. 

Adam Maleson June 19, 2012 at 08:31 AM
"What do you think about the zoning change? What do you think about the potential development on the site? Tell us in the comments." Ok, you asked. I think why is this being done? Is it because the city thinks it needs to find any and every opportunity to raise cash, because of its self-inflicted bankruptcy due to the new North high school? Whether it's selling off real estate, or selling school building names, or any other manner our wise leaders can think of to whore Newton off to anyone with cash in hand? Or is this something completely unrelated to any of that, something that would be seen as a good and desirable plan for Newton regardless of the billion dollar new high school?

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