Wondering what to believe about the Northland Referendum? Come join a conversation about the Northland project, the upcoming vote on March 3rd, and Newton’s future.
You’ll have the opportunity to hear from Land Use attorney/40B expert, Dennis Murphy, as well some of your City Councilors, fellow residents, and neighbors.
Sponsored by the Committee for Responsible Development and RightSize Newton.
The Committee for Responsible Development, a ballot question committee organized to run the referendum campaign against the Northland plan for a 1.4 million square foot development on Needham Street has been invited by the League of Women Voters Newton (“the League”) to participate in a debate regarding the proposed Northland development on February 13, 2020.
After serious consideration, we regret that we will not be participating in the League’s event. Although the League of Women Voters Newton is not a neutral, objective body (as endorsers of the proposed development), we nevertheless were looking forward to participating in a fair and open forum
that would allow Newton’s citizens to hear the truth about this proposed development.
The format proposed by the League was that a moderator would provide the basic facts of the proposed development, followed by 15-minute presentations by both sides, with a question and answer session at the end.
We requested that the moderator be neutral and objective and that the presentation be limited to actual facts about the project (e.g. number of apartments, size and number of buildings, number of parking spaces, etc.). Via email on February 6, 2020 we were informed that the moderator would be Marcia Johnson, the President of the League, who has enthusiastically endorsed the proposed development in the past – neither a neutral nor an objective moderator.
We were further notified that the materials to be presented as facts about the project would be collected and prepared by Ms. Johnson, and that we would have no opportunity to ensure that the information that was presented by Ms. Johnson was factual, relevant, and accurate. In fact, Ms. Johnson indicated that “it is the campaigns’ presentations that will refute the facts” that she plans to present. Of course, facts, by their definition are things that are known or proved to be true – things presented as fact by a moderator should not be refutable.
Additionally, Ms. Johnson would not allow questions from the audience to be asked directly, but would collect them and would read the ones she has chosen for the parties to answer. The League’s format cannot be regarded as a fair and open forum for debate.
While we would be happy to debate the proposed development with Northland, it is clear that the League is not interested in hosting such a debate. The League is hoping that the presence of both sides at their forum will give this patently biased, unbalanced and unfair event an illusion of fairness and objectivity that it does not deserve.
After a vigorous debate Wednesday, a date for the special election on the fate of the 800-unit Northland project had to be put on hold until the City Council’s next meeting on Jan. 21.
The city council Wednesday voted against taking back its vote that allowed Northland Development to go ahead with a zoning change.
NEWTON — Deja vu, anyone?
Just about two months after Newton’s voters cast their ballots in a local election that focused on development, voters could be asked to weigh in on the issue again — this time, by a referendum effort opposed to a large mixed-use project in Upper Falls.
Organizers of a voter referendum to block Northland Investment Corp.’s mixed-use development in Newton Upper Falls have gathered enough signatures to force the City Council to either rescind zoning approval for the project or schedule a special election to decide its fate.
A group of activists opposed to a development in Newton Upper Falls is accusing the mayor of using city resources to influence a possible special election on the Northland development proposal.
From City Clerk, David Olson : We are still certifying signatures on the Northland Petition, but the petitioners have the minimum number of certified signatures needed for a successful petition (3,032). We will stop certifying at 40% more than needed, or we run out of signatures, but there are enough sheets left that it looks like we will get up to the 40% over (4,245)
Days ahead of deadline, a group of residents Friday gave the city clerk’s office a petition with 4,800 signatures to possibly force a referendum on the recently-approved mixed-use Northland project.
When contentious issues are up for debate, civility matters. This is especially true when city leaders (political and nonpolitical) take their opinions to the streets.